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6 charged with left-wing terrorism in Greece

ATHENS, Greece — A Greek prosecutor on Monday charged six people with membership in the country’s most active far-left terrorist group, which has claimed a string of bombings and a rocket attack on the U.S. embassy in Athens.

The five men and one woman, aged between 30 and 41, were also charged with multiple counts of attempted homicide, causing explosions, and arms offenses linked with the Revolutionary Struggle organization.

Each faces a maximum 25-year sentence if found guilty on the main charges.

The suspects were arrested in and around Athens Saturday. Police said they found Revolutionary Struggle proclamations and plans for future attacks in one of the detainees’ homes, but have located no weapons or explosives.

Revolutionary Struggle first appeared in 2003, a year after authorities eradicated Greece’s deadliest left-wing group, November 17, and has bombed banks, government buildings and the Athens Stock Exchange, in three cases causing minor injuries to bystanders. Its most spectacular hit was the 2007 rocket-propelled grenade attack on the heavily guarded U.S. Embassy, which caused minor damage but no injuries.

The U.S. government subsequently offered a $1 million reward for information leading to the capture of Revolutionary Struggle members.

The group also shot and severely wounded a riot policeman last year. That attack came during a spike in anarchist and far-left violence that followed the fatal police shooting of an Athens teenager in December 2008 and days of rioting in Greek cities.

The six suspects arrived at the main Athens court complex escorted by anti-terrorist police, and were whisked into the prosecutor’s office. When they exited, dozens of people who had gathered to chant slogans in support of the detainees threw plastic bottles and scuffled with police, who responded with pepper spray. Two people were arrested for the disturbance, which followed anarchist groups’ calls for a show of solidarity.

Police said the suspects included Nikos Maziotis, 39, a self-described anarchist jailed for three-and-a-half years for planting a small bomb — which did not explode — outside a ministry building in 1997. According to court documents, authorities believe Maziotis played a leading role in the group.

Maziotis’ pregnant partner, Panayiota Roupa, 41, was also arrested.

Domestic far-left terrorism waned after the eradication of November 17, during a security crackdown ahead of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Since then, Revolutionary Struggle have been the most prominent militants, although since the December 2008 riots two new groups have carried out a string of bomb and gun attacks on symbols of wealth and authority, killing a policeman.

Associated Press Writer Derek Gatopoulos contributed to this report.



Greek police arrest suspected leftist guerrillas

ATHENS, April 11 (Reuters) – Greek police have arrested six people suspected of belonging to one of the country’s most militant guerrilla groups and taking part in bomb attacks, officials said on Sunday.

The arrest of the suspected members of the Revolutionary Struggle appeared to be a major strike against groups which have stepped up attacks against police, public buildings and businesses since riots that paralysed Athens in December 2008.

“They have been arrested and will be led to the prosecutor on charges of participating in a terrorist organisation,” police spokesman Thanassis Kokkalakis told a news conference.

Kokkalakis said police found a wealth of evidence at the residence of two of those arrested, including a hard disk containing pamphlets claiming attacks by Revolutionary Struggle as well as handwritten texts about past and intended attacks.

Police said in a statement they had arrested six people, revising the number down from media reports of seven arrests.

They raided dozens of suspects’ homes over the weekend, officials said, adding they had not yet found weapons or explosives. They were investigating whether the suspects had taken part in bomb attacks claimed by other guerrilla groups.

On Sunday, about 60 leftists threw stones and plastic bottles at police who raided a home in central Athens. Police fired tear gas to disperse them.

Revolutionary Struggle emerged in September 2003, about a year after the capture of the urban guerrilla group November 17.

It attempted to kill a minister in 2006 and launched a rocket-propelled grenade against the U.S Embassy in Athens in 2007, causing minor damage and no injuries.

It reappeared weeks the police killing of a teenager in December 2008, claiming responsibility for shooting at riot police guarding the culture ministry which left one wounded.

Greece’s socialist government, elected in an October snap election, has made combating guerrilla groups a priority. (Reporting by Dina Kyriakidou and Renee Maltezou; writing by Ingrid Melander; editing by Andrew Roche)

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