Athens – Nine Greeks accused of terror offences refused to attend their own trial and returned to their cells on Monday in protest at security measures, forcing the judge to postpone the hearing for a day.
The protest turned violent when supporters of the defendants clashed with plain-clothes officers in the courtroom and police reinforcements were called in to restore order, judicial sources said.
The nine and four others who are still at large and being tried in absentia are accused of targeting foreign embassies in a bombing campaign last year.
When the trial opened last week in the high security Korydallos prison near Athens it was halted within hours when the accused protested entry controls to the court.
At that time they said they would stage another protest and refuse to attend further hearing if visitors continued to be forced to hand over their identity cards to be photocopied prior to entering the courtroom.
The judge has defended the procedure, saying it reflects normal security routines inside a prison.
The accused said they would not return to the court for further hearings and would also refuse to be represented by lawyers and to eat food supplied by the authorities, relying only on produce brought to them from outside.
The suspects, aged between 19 and 30, are facing charges of “belonging to a terrorist organisation” for their alleged involvement in the Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei outfit that in November sent a wave of parcel bombs to foreign missions in Athens and a trio of European leaders abroad.
The charge is punishable by 10 to 25 years in prison.
Seen as the latest generation in a three-decade run of far-left extremism in Greece – legacy of a brutal military dictatorship – Conspiracy became prominent in 2008 with a series of attacks against the homes and offices of politicians.
The organisation has shown a growing aptitude in handling explosives and, unlike other Greek groups that were silenced by police arrests, it has apparently survived two waves of roundups to continue its attacks.
In December, just weeks after police raided several safe houses and caught two of its alleged members, the group placed a time bomb outside a court in Athens and used it to threaten justice officials ahead of the trial.