Athens Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis posted a picture on social media with his father, Pavlos, who was murdered 31 years ago today by the November 17 terrorist group.
“You may have flew away thirty-one years ago, but every day I touch you…” are the few touching words Bakoyannis wrote underneath the picture in his Facebook account.
The murder of Pavlos Bakoyannis remains one of the most memorable crimes committed by the leftist organization that was dismantled by Greece’s anti-terrorism unit in July 2002, after 27 years in operation.
It was early in the morning of September 26, 1989, when the former publisher and New Democracy MP Bakoyannis was shot to death by three members of the November 17 group outside his office in downtown Athens.
The crime shook Greece’s political world to its very core. After eight years of rule by socialist PASOK, the New Democracy Party won two national elections in June and November of 1989, but in neither one had gained the absolute majority needed to form government.
About a month later, on October 21, the attempt to murder New Democracy leader Konstantinos Mitsotakis added more fuel to the already-volatile atmosphere.
Bakoyannis, a publisher and journalist, was the owner of the Grammi AE media publishing company before he was elected to Parliament as a member of the New Democracy party in the June 1989 election.
He was a low-profile politician who avoided populist gestures and rhetoric, unlike most of his peers. Born February 10, 1935 in Velota, in the Evrytania prefecture, he studied Political Economics and Political Science in Germany, earning a Doctor of Social Sciences degree.
Bakoyannis then went to teach Political Science and Journalism at the University of Munich, and beginning in the mid-1960s he produced a Greek-language radio program in Bavaria for about ten years.
He was still serving as the director of the Greek program of Bavarian Radio when the April 21, 1967 coup took place in Greece. The professor used his position to oppose the dictatorial regime and his commentary was also transmitted by Deutsche Welle.
While in Munich, he met Dora Mitsotakis, the daughter of former prime minister Konstantinos Mitsotakis, who was also studying at Munich University. The two were married in 1974 and had two children, Alexia and Kostas. Bakoyannis and his young family returned to Greece after the restoration of democracy.
After he was elected MP, Bakoyannis invited the Coalition of the Left party to discuss the painful issues which still divided much of Greece into extreme leftist and rightist camps, asking them to join New Democracy in a coalition government.
Ironically, the night before his murder, Bakoyannis was at the Coalition of the Left offices and gave his bodyguard permission to leave to get some rest because it was late at night when they left, according to his widow, Dora Bakoyanni.
It was 7:58 in the morning when the politician arrived alone at his office building on Omirou Street in Kolonaki. When he entered the lobby, three men walked in behind him and shot him point-blank. He was shot twice in the back and then again on his side while he was lying on the floor.
Bakoyannis died one hour later at Athens’ Evangelismos Hospital. He was 54 years old.
The November 17 terrorist organization promptly claimed responsibility for Bakoyannis’ death. In a 12-page proclamation sent on October 9 to the newspaper Eleftherotypia, entitled “The Purge Began,” it stated inter alia that “We have therefore decided to execute the fraud and robber of the people Bakoyannis.”
“He is responsible not only for stealing the first 60 million of the founding capital for Grammi, but also for the hundreds of millions he stole with his partner Koskotas for raising the Grammi share capital, but also for buying the Bank of Crete through Grammi,” the screed concluded.
The notorious “Koskotas Scandal” was at the epicenter of the news during that time. Wealthy businessman Giorgos Koskotas had bought the media and publishing company “Grammi AE” from Bakoyannis in 1982, and in 1984 he bought a 56-percent share of the Bank of Crete’s equity, later to acquire 82 percent.
In 1987, Koskotas bought the Olympiacos Football Club, which soon began to trade players for astronomical sums of money.
By the end of the decade, the businessman had bought opposition newspapers and turned them into PASOK-friendly publications. Soon he was accused of having shady dealings with top PASOK politicians, allegedly including then-prime minister Andreas Papandreou.
Yet, Koskotas’ connection and alleged shady deals with Bakoyannis were never proven.