Nikolaos Dertilis, the last junta leader, who died in prison without showing any remorse for his actions, including the execution of a 20-year-old man during a student uprising against the ruling military leaders in 1973, was buried in Athens on Jan. 31 with a hero’s blessing.
Dertilis, who is worshipped by the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, was praised by Bishop Amvrosios of Kalavryta, who likened him to great Greek war heroes and philosophers. He didn’t explain why, as a man of God, he thought a man responsible for so many deaths deserved accolades.
“Dertilis was a hero like Kolokotronis and Socrates,” said Amvrosios, who conducted the funeral service, in a reference to Theodoros Kolokotronis, an icon of Greece’s War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire, as well as the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates.
“I know that the media will tear me apart and say that I have no right to speak (my mind.) Since the media had already decided that I would be the one to conduct the funeral service before I personally had made a decision, I decided to go ahead and do it,” he said, the newspaper Kathimerini reported.
The funeral was attended by several deputies and supporters of Golden Dawn, which saluted Dertilis, the last surviving member of the 1967-74 military dictatorship’s hierarchy, as “an exceptional Greek and a soldier who shed his blood for his country on the battlefields.”
Gunshots were fired amid cheers and applause from the crowd as the late general was put to rest. Reports said police detained one person after he was found carrying five bullet shells. Authorities were investigating his home, reports said.
After the restoration of democracy, Dertilis was sentenced to life in prison for shooting dead of a young protester during the bloody suppression of a student uprising in 1973. He died on Jan. 28 at the age of 94.
In a statement junior coalition partner Democratic Left attacked Amvrosios calling him a “preacher of hate.” The leftist party said the Bishop had with the help of Golden Dawn turned the funeral into a “show against democracy and a gathering of junta remnants.”