Police in the north of the country have launched a manhunt after a convicted member of the November 17 Revolutionary Organisation terrorist group who was on nine days’ leave from prison appears to have gone on the run. Christodoulos Xiros, 55, who is serving six consecutive life sentences plus an additional 25 years for his involvement in six murders, bombings and robberies, was given licence to leave Korydallos prison in Piraeus on New Year’s day and was due to return to jail on Tuesday. Under the terms of his licence, he was to report daily to police at Nea Kallikratia, on the Halkidiki peninsula near the northern city of Thessaloniki, where he had said he would stay with his sister. But he failed to show up on Monday, leading police to launch a search for him in Halkidiki and Thessaloniki on Monday evening. Statements made by Xiros’ lawyer suggest that he has gone on the run. “He was able and got away like every revolutionary must do,” Frangiskos Ragousis told Skai TV on Tuesday morning.
Xiros was one of three brothers – whose father was a priest – arrested and convicted for their role in the group’s 27-year-long campaign of killings and bombings.
In a related development, his brother Savvas Xiros – serving five consecutive life sentences plus an additional 25 years for his involvement in November 17 – is due to be transferred from Korydallos prison to Larisa University hospital on Tuesday, amid high security.The health of the 52-year-old, who has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, has reportedly deteriorated in recent times.
The group was smashed in 2002 when Savvas Xiros, an icon painter, was captured after being seriously injured when the bomb he was apparently attempting to plant in Athens exploded prematurely.
Speaking on Skai TV, the government spokesman, Simos Kedikoglou, underlined his view that terrorist convicts must not be treated like ordinary prisoners. Rulling out any possibility that Savvas Xiros will be granted early release, he said: “When you’re dealing with cases of unrepentant convicted terrorists, I do not think that they should be treated like ordinary prisoners.”