The United States and Turkey have expressed their concern regarding the scenarios that want former “November 17” member and convicted terrorist Savvas Xeros released due to health reasons. On Friday, the leftist-led Greek government has passed a new law according to which inmates with heavy disabilities can turn their sentences to house arrest.
A State Department official told journalists that the American government is concerned that the legislation passed, aiming at solving the overcrowding problem of Greek jails, will benefit convicted terrorists. On its behalf, the Greek government is underlining that this would not be the case as the convicts serving perennial terms will be under house arrest and under strict custodianship. According to Greek media reports, the issue will also be tabled in talks to be held later today in Washington between visiting Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and the US State Secretary John Kerry.
In addition, according to Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah, Ankara also expressed its concern about Xeros’ possible release. On his part, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tanju Bilgic said any move to lighten the sentences of “November 17” members would be viewed as “weakness in counter-terrorism efforts and a serious violation of terror attack victims’ rights.”
Xeros, who has been convicted to five consecutive life sentences plus an additional 25 years after being found guilty for five assassinations, armed robberies, bomb plannings and participation in Greece’s largest terrorist organization, “November 17.” Xeros suffers from multiple scleroses and has lost most of his sight. He is one of three siblings convicted 10 years ago for participating in the terrorist group’s activities, while his brother Christodoulos Xeros was arrested again in early January after he escaped Korydallos prison and was on the run since January 2014. On June 29, 2002, Greek police captured injured suspect Savvas Xeros, following a failed bombing attempt at the Minoan Flying Dolphins ferry company offices in Piraeus. An investigation led to the discovery of two safe houses and the arrests of six more suspects, among them his two brothers. Among others, Xeros was found guilty for the assassinations of Captain William Nordeen, the US Defense and Naval Attache to Greece in 1988, and US Air Force Sergeant Ronald Stewart, three years later. “November 17” was also responsible for murdering Turkish diplomats Cetin Gorgu in 1991 and Haluk Sipahioglu in 1994.