ATHENS, Greece – A Greek court on Wednesday convicted five people on terrorism-related charges related to a militant anarchist group which claimed responsibility for a string of bombings over six years and fired a rocket-propelled grenade into the U.S. Embassy in Athens but caused no deaths.
Two of the main suspects, Nikos Maziotis and his wife Panagiota Roupa, were convicted in absentia. They absconded last year following their release after spending the maximum 18 months in pre-trial detention.
Three other suspects were acquitted. The special court, which convened in a maximum-security Athens prison, sentenced Maziotis, Roupa and Costas Gournas to 25 years in prison, and gave 7 and 7 1/2-year terms to two more men.
Maziotis, Roupa and Gournas have admitted "political responsibility" for actions of the Revolutionary Struggle group. All the other suspects denied any wrongdoing.
Nobody died in the attacks by the group, which was active between 2003 and 2009, thought if shot and severely injured a riot policeman in 2009, and several other people suffered minor injuries in other attacks.
Wednesday's ruling ended the third major domestic terrorism trial in recent years in Greece, which suffered from extreme left-wing political violence for decades. Authorities scored a first key victory just before the 2004 Athens Olympics, eradicating the most deadly group — November 17.
Professing a mix of Marxism and nationalism, November 17 killed 23 people, including foreign diplomats, from 1975 to 2000. A smaller far-left group, Revolutionary Popular Struggle, was also broken amid a huge security crackdown ahead of the Athens Games.
Revolutionary Struggle, which emerged in 2003, became the main source of extremist political action. It claimed responsibility for several bomb attacks in Athens, including against the Athens Stock Exchange, planting a massive bomb that failed to explode outside Citibank offices, and the 2007 U.S. embassy strike — which caused no injuries.
Violence spiked again after the fatal police shooting of an Athens teenager in late 2008, which triggered days of rioting in many Greek cities. Several anarchist or nihilist groups claimed dozens of bomb or gunfire attacks, during which three people died.
Authorities have jailed half a dozen convicted members of the most prolific of these groups, Conspiracy Nuclei of Fire, while about 20 more suspected members face terrorism charges.