Turkey condemns Greece over release of diplomat killer

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published

Ankara strongly condemned a furlough for a Greek far-left terrorist convicted of killing two Turkish diplomats.

Responding to a question regarding jail leave for Dimitris Koufodinas that started on Tuesday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said the furlough decision "added to our concerns on how well the Greek judiciary functions."

"Tolerating a terrorist with blood on his hands means disrespect to the memory of our martyred diplomats and their families. It is unacceptable that a terrorist who murdered our honorable diplomats benefited [from furlough]," Aksoy said, calling on Greek authorities "not to take steps that will weaken the counterterrorism fight" and "fulfill their duties to punish terrorists."

Koufodinas is serving multiple life sentences for a string of assassinations. He was a member of the November 17 terrorist group that killed 23 Western diplomats and Greeks between 1975 and 2000. His group is responsible for the murder of Çetin Görgü, a press attaché at the Turkish Embassy in Athens in 1991, the 1994 killing of Counsellor Ömer Haluk Sipahioğlu who was stationed at the embassy and a bombing in 1991 that wounded Deniz Bölükbaşı, another embassy employee. November 17's other targets included a CIA station chief and a defense attaché at the British Embassy.

He has been granted three furloughs since last year despite criticism by Turkey and the families of victims. In 2013, Christodoulos Xiros, another convicted member of the group, fled while on prison leave.

Greece is accused of being a haven for terrorists who committed crimes against Turks. This year alone, Greek courts ordered the release of members of the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), which is recognized as a terrorist group by the European Union, and eight former military officers involved in the 2016 coup attempt by the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ).

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