- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 21, 2002

ATHENS The Greek Orthodox priest whose three sons were suspected killers for the feared November 17 terrorist group said yesterday that his children had turned away from God and must pay for their deeds.
Police, meanwhile, said two more men were picked up yesterday as they continued their sweep against the ultra-leftist terror band that operated with impunity in Greece for 27 years. A suspected founder of the organization, charged with 13 murders, yesterday denied the crimes.
For three weeks, the Rev. Triandafyllos Xiros had insisted there was no connection between his family and November 17. But after police announced earlier this week that two sons had confessed to a string of murders, bombings and bank robberies, the priest who has 11 children appeared a broken man.
"They will go to jail, and they must repent," he said.
"All these days I have been praying for God to reveal the truth, for the guilty ones to be revealed. God has done his miracle. The police did their job well. The truth was revealed and the guilty ones were revealed. And I am happy for this, even if my own children were involved. Whoever did something must pay. Everyone must pay, either here or in the next life."
November 17 is suspected in 23 killings, including the 1975 assassination of the CIA station chief in Athens, Richard Welch, and that of British defense attache Brig. Stephen Saunders in June 2000, financing their operations with some of Greece's biggest bank robberies.
Police first penetrated the deadly group by accident when Father Triandafyllos' 40-year-old son, Savas, was severely injured when the bomb he was purportedly carrying exploded June 29. That led police to Alexandros Giotopoulos, 58, described as a founder of the group and its ideologist, and two other sons of Father Triandafyllos.
Court officials and police said the Paris-born academician insisted yesterday that he had no connection to the group, although authorities say they found his fingerprints in one of two apartments November 17 used to store weapons.
Mr. Giotopoulos was captured Wednesday on the eastern Aegean island of Lispsi, where he had a vacation home.
Authorities have nine suspects in custody so far, including three Xiros brothers, one of their high-school friends, an electrician, a retired printer and the academic.
Father Triandafyllos' eldest son, Christodoulos, 44, confessed to participating in nine killings. Another son, 30-year-old Vassilis, confessed to participating in two killings and robberies.
"Savas and the other children left the path of God. They strayed from the church, they became distant from God," Father Triandafyllos said.
He said Savas had repented after being injured in the botched bombing. "When he saw death with his own eyes, he turned toward God," Father Triandafyllos said.
Authorities have not yet arrested or charged Savas, but said one of his fingerprints was found on a vehicle used in the 1997 assassination of businessman Constantinos Peratikos.


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