Fire Cells Conspiracy trial updates

A few weeks ago, prosecutors handling the Fire Cells Conspiracy case completed their brief regarding the accused who will be summoned to trial (which still hasn’t been scheduled) for the mailing of incendiary packages that took place on November 1, 2010. Eleven people will be tried, nine of whom (Panayiotis Argyrou, Damiano Bolano, Olga Economidou, Haris Hatzimichelakis, Giorgos and Michalis Nikolopoulos, Giorgos Polydoras, and Christos and Gerasimos Tsakalos) are Fire Cells Conspiracy members. The other two (Giorgos Karagiannidis and Alexandros Mitrousias) deny being members. The charges are “forming a terrorist organization,” “supplying and manufacturing bombs and explosive material,” “possession of bombs and explosive material,” and “causing explosions with the potential to endanger nearby objects and human lives.”

Also in early October, in the presence of the prosecutor and examining magistrates, employees of the shipping companies used to mail the incendiary packages were called to identify some of the accused. None of the employees recognized our comrades, and the statement of one of the “key witnesses” against Karagiannidis was quite revealing:

The police showed me four or five photos to see if I recognized one of them. I initially told them I was incapable of identifying someone I saw for two seconds and who was also wearing a motorcycle helmet. They then asked me if I could perhaps identify some physical features. I told them I couldn’t, and they asked me if any features were similar to those in the photos they showed me. I told them I couldn’t recall exactly, and they responded: “Good, we’ll put it down as ‘some similar features.’”

Meanwhile, prosecutors are preparing briefs regarding other attacks claimed by the Fire Cells Conspiracy. It’s still unclear whether a single trial will cover the group’s “complete works” or whether there will be a series of trials with slight changes in the ranks of the accused. In any case, authorities are insisting on attributing membership in the group to the four comrades arrested during the December 4, 2010 antiterrorist operation, among whom Karagiannidis and Mitrousias were already sentenced at the first trial to 20 and 11 years in prison respectively. Stella Antoniou and Costas Sakkas are facing the same charges as Karagiannidis and Mitrousias, while Dimitris Michail and Christos Politis—arrested the same day as the other four and released pending trial after spending six months in prison—are not mentioned in the brief, and prosecutors will be requesting their acquittal. The charges against the accused, whether they have revealed themselves to be Fire Cells Conspiracy members or not, are the same: “forming a terrorist organization,” “carrying out acts of terrorism,” etc., as well as “forgery” (given that fake identification documents were found). Karagiannidis and Sakkas face the additional charge of “impersonating authority,” since they are accused of dressing up as police officers in order to collect personal information from pedestrians (some students admitted to recognizing them) in order to create fake identification documents based on information from real people.

Additionally, the infamous accusation of being “leader” of the Fire Cells Conspiracy has reared its head again. You’ll recall that in early 2011, even before the first trial against the group began, the role of leader of the organization was attributed to Hatzimichelakis. Now, prosecutors are again toying with the same idea, but at the moment they are proposing three different “candidates” for the “position,” insinuating that the “leadership role” could have been filled by Bolano, Giorgos Nikolopoulos, Christos Tsakalos, or—why not?—all three of them together. An excerpt:

They, together with Hatzimichelakis and other unidentified people, ran the Fire Cells Conspiracy organization, in which they held decision-making and leadership positions. Their role was principal and decisive regarding the acquisition and supply of material and other means used by the organization to manufacture improvised explosive devices with the aim of illegally distributing them, the use and maintenance of apartments and storage spaces as hideouts and places to stockpile weapons, as well as the writing of the organization’s communiqués and their posting on Indymedia.

On November 7, an Athens Supreme Court tribunal will examine the petition to suspend the sentence of comrade Panayiotis Masouras. The same petition was submitted by the defense after sentencing in the first Fire Cells Conspiracy trial, but it was unanimously rejected. According to reports, the tribunal’s decision will be made public within a few days. Konstantina Karakatsani’s defense will be submitting the same type of petition in early December.

There has also been some amusing news. An Antiterrorist Unit agent who testified at the first Fire Cells Conspiracy trial (he was part of the surveillance team tasked with watching Hatzimichelakis’ apartment) was arrested two weeks ago for the armed robbery of a lottery agent’s in the Aghios Dimitrios neighborhood of Athens. His haul was 180 euros, and he was immediately caught by his own colleagues.

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