Greek police charge six with terrorism after raid

Sunday, December 5, 2010

ATHENS - Police Sunday charged six people of having connections with a terrorist group after confiscating guns and explosives at various locations across Greece.

The suspects range in age from 21-30 and include one woman. They were detained following police raids in Athens, the port of Piraeus, the western town of Agrinio and the southern Mediterranean island of Crete Saturday, police chief Lefteris Oikonomou told a press briefing.

All six suspects were formally charged with three felonies, including participation in a terrorist group, aggravated arms possession and possession of explosive materials.

They are expected to appear before an examining magistrate Monday or Tuesday.

Two of those detained were wanted by police in connection with a left-wing terrorist group, Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei, that was allegedly behind a series of parcel bombs sent to European leaders and embassies last month.

The majority of the 14 packages was intercepted by police and destroyed, including those addressed to German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the chancellery office in Berlin and to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, found inside a cargo plane at Bologna Airport.

Police had initially said nine people were arrested in the raids.

The first two suspects were arrested after officials discovered three submachine guns, seven handguns, grenades, 50 kg of explosive powder and 200 grams of TNT in a basement garage in the Athens suburb of Nea Smyrni.

Officials also found stolen car licence plates, face hoods and wigs.

Anti-terrorist police then made further arrests in the Athens suburb of Kalithea, the central Athens neighbourhood of Exarchia, the central Greek town of Agrinio and on the island of Crete.

Officials had initially said the weapons found were similar to the kind used by left-wing guerrilla group Sect of Revolutionaries, which claimed responsibility for the slaying of Sokratis Giolas, an investigative journalist and an anti-terrorist police officer. Giolas was shot dead in front of his pregnant wife July 19 outside their Athens home.

But early ballistic tests found no prior match to extremist activity, Oikonomou said.

The police chief said police hastened the arrests of the suspects, who were all under surveillance, after evidence showed they were planning a terrorist attack.

The Sect of Revolutionaries first emerged after the rioting over the death of teenager Alexis Grigoropoulos, killed by a police bullet in December 2008.

The group has vowed to increase attacks on police, business people, prison guards and corrupt media, in addition to tourists.

Greece has a long history with domestic terrorism, which has left more than 40 people dead in the last three decades, including a British military attache, a CIA station chief, police officers, journalists and businessmen.

Filed under: Terrorism

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