The United States and Turkey are upset that Greece’s new coalition government plans to release a notorious terrorist who says he’s disabled because a bomb he was building blew up, and that he’s ill.
Savvas Xiros belonged to the November 17 terrorist group that operated for decades and killed a number of people, including five Americans attached to the US Embassy.
The Radical Left SYRIZA-led government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has anarchist elements and said to include terrorist sympathizers who prosecutors said want to empty jails of hardened criminals, including terrorists and their families.
The government has filed a bill to allow the release of those said to be ill or disabled, including Xiros, who has not expressed any remorse for killing people and now could get out under house arrest terms.
A US State Department told reporters that Washington is “concerned” that the legislation, aimed at easing overcrowding in Greek jails, would lead to convicted terrorists being released. The term is generally said to be diplomatic code to express private outrage.
It is expected that the issue will be part of the agenda of talks between US State Secretary John Kerry and Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias when they meet in Washington on April 20.
Xiros convictions include using a car bomb in 1988 to murder Captain William Nordeen, the US Defense and Naval Attaché to Greece, and killing US Air Force sergeant Ronald Stewart three years later.
Turkey also is upset, the Daily Sabah newspaper said. November 17 was found guity of murdering Turkish diplomats Çetin Görgü in 1991 and Haluk Sipahioğlu in 1994 and planting a car bomb attack that injured Turkish Charge D’affaires Deniz Bölükbaşı in 1991.
Turkish Foreign Ministry Spokesman Tanju Bilgiç said any move to commute the sentences of November 17 members would be viewed by Ankara as “weakness in counter-terrorism efforts and a serious violation of rights of victims of terror attacks.”