The ruling New Democracy Conservatives of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his rivals, the major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) are squabbling in the aftermath of the escape of a November 17 terrorist serving six life sentences who walked away while on a furlough and didn’t return to prison voluntarily as he promised.
That came as revelations emerged that Christodoulous Xeros, who has been on the lam since Jan. 6, partied with fellow convicted terrorists from the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire on New Year’s Eve amid speculation the guards may have been ordered to look the other way. The story has been all over the Greek news.
Greek Justice Minister Haralambos Athanasiou said 10 Korydallos Prison guards and employees who had been on duty on Dec. 31 will be suspended as part of an investigation into why some of the country’s most notorious criminals were allowed to throw a New Year’s bash for themselves.
Video footage from the prison is to be scrutinized. An official of the prison guards union hinted that the guards had no choice but didn’t explain if they were pressured in some manner to look the other while the terrorists celebrated.
The escape embarrassed Samaras, who had campaigned last year on a tough-on-crime law-and-order stance.
New Democracy said that SYRIZA, a motley collection of Communists, Maoists, Trotyskites, ecologists and others, has well-known links to terrorism,” reiterating its belief that the Leftists have also stoked anti-government violence.
New Democracy said that SYRIZA “did not utter a word about the escape of the murderer Christodoulos Xeros.” SYRIZA retorted that “the ridiculousness of the government has no bounds.”
The disappearance of Xeros – and of convicted Revolutionary Struggle leader Nikos Maziotis in 2012 – prompted Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias to indirectly criticize the judiciary.
The union of prosecutors came right back at him, noting that “if the legislator deems the institution is in need of revision, the Constitution allows him to revise it.” Dendias said that a board that reviews furlough has let dangerous criminals free to roam Greece, 28 of whom haven’t come back from leave.
It wasn’t said who approved the releases. In the first half of 2013, some 1,189 furloughs were approved.