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Greek far-left killer in intensive care after hunger strike

By The News · 20 of May 2019 10:38:28
AP Photo,, No available, FILE - In this Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017 file photo, Dimitris Koufodinas smiles as he leaves Korydallos prison in western Athens. A Greek far-left extremist serving 11 life terms for a string of murders is vowing to continue "until the end" with a hunger strike after judges rejected his bid for new leave from prison. A lawyer representing Koufodinas, chief hit man for the November 17 group that killed 23 people from 1975-2000, says her client will also refuse medical assistance. (Yannis Kotsiaris/InTime News via AP, file)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — An extremist serving multiple life terms for 11 murders by Greece’s deadliest far-left group was placed in intensive care following a 15-day hunger strike that has triggered violent protests by political sympathizers, Greek authorities said Friday.

The health ministry said the condition of Dimitris Koufodinas, the main hit man of the now-defunct November 17 terrorist group, is not life-threatening, although his lawyer warned that his health is deteriorating fast.

Koufodinas was moved to intensive care for monitoring Friday in a hospital in the central town of Volos.

Koufodinas, 61, has vowed to continue his hunger strike “to the end” unless authorities allow him a new temporary prison leave. He had been granted six furloughs since late 2017, but last week judges ruled that he still poses a threat to society and should not be let out temporarily.

These brief leaves from prison, combined with Koufodinas’ transferal from a maximum-security Athens jail to a laxer unit near Volos, have been criticized as unduly lenient by relatives of November 17’s victims and U.S. authorities.

Professing a mixture of Marxism and nationalism, November 17 killed 23 people from 1975-2000, including Americans and other foreign diplomats.

Koufodinas has claimed “political responsibility” for the group’s acts. He was convicted in 2003 and is serving 11 life terms.

Koufodinas’ lawyer, Ioanna Kourtovik, said he could suffer kidney failure “at any moment.”

“His health has deteriorated rapidly, and he is in danger of suffering irreversible damage,” she told The Associated Press.

Kourtovik added that, according to doctors, Koufodinas has not fully recovered from a two-week hunger strike last summer, again held to press for a furlough which he eventually received.

Greece’s top prosecutor has asked to be briefed on the grounds for the rejection of Koufodinas’ furlough request, and on the state of his health.

Koufodinas’ cause has been strongly backed by Greek anarchist groups, who have mounted a series of attacks to show their support — including throwing firebombs at Athens police stations, vandalizing shops and banks, and throwing paint at the U.S. ambassador’s central Athens residence.

Anarchists have also held marches in several Greek cities, and plan a new motorcycle protest in central Athens Saturday.