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12/12/03 - NOVEMBER 17 CONVICTIONS - 2003-12-16

A court in Athens has convicted fifteen members of one of Europe's deadliest terrorist groups -- November 17. Its founder, Alexandros Yiotopoulous, was found guilty along with fourteen others of bombings and murders that spanned nearly thirty years, killed more than two dozen people, and wounded many others.

Formed in 1975, this radical leftist terrorist group was named for the November 17th, 1973 student uprising against the military then ruling Greece. Among its goals were an end to U.S. military cooperation with Greece, the removal of Turkish military forces from Cyprus, and the withdrawal of Greece from the European Union and the NATO alliance.

Most of November 17's victims have been Greeks, including publishers Nikos Momferatos and George Athanasiades, retired industrialist Dimitrios Angelopolous, Pavlos Bakoyianni, a member of the Greek parliament, shipowner Costis Peratikos and a student, Thanos Axarlian. November 17 murdered Greek law-enforcement officials and bombed government offices.

November 17 terrorists killed or wounded some thirty-two Americans. Five members of the U.S. Mission in Greece were murdered: Embassy officer Richard Welch, U.S. Navy Captains George Tsantes and William Nordeen, Air Force sergeant Ronald Stewart, and Embassy driver Ronald Veloutsos. The terrorists attacked the U.S. embassy and the embassy of Turkey. British military attaché General Stephen Saunders was shot to death in June 2000.

In December 2001, families and friends of victims of November 17 terrorism held a candlelight vigil in front of the Greek Parliament. They formed an organization called "Os Edo" ["Enough is Enough"] to call for stepped-up action against the terrorists. In many subsequent vigils, Os Edo publicized the plight of the families and the lack of justice for the victims. But thanks to an aroused public, the impunity with which November 17 had operated was finally ended.

In 2002, Greek police arrested the top leaders of November 17 and more than a dozen of their terrorist associates. The conviction of the November 17 terrorists is a victory for Greece and all decent people.