Greece court declines to stop transfer of militant prisoner on hunger strike
© WikiMedia (Michael Coghlan)
Greece court declines to stop transfer of militant prisoner on hunger strike

The Greek Council of State court on Tuesday rejected a request by Secretary-General of Anti-Crime Policy Sophia Nikolaou, which required him to be transferred to a high-security prison in Domokos. Since then, Koufodinas has maintained a hunger strike, insisting that he remain in Athens’ Korydallos Prison.

Koufodinas is known for his role as the head assassin of the militant group “November 17.” The organization was named after the November 1973 student uprising at Athens Polytechnic University, during which the Greek military sent a tank through the university’s front gates and police killed at least 23 protestors that had organized to protest the Greek Junta and to advocate for educational reform. Since then, the militant group has launched attacks against foreign and Greek officials, ordinary citizens, and also foreign businesses and facilities, to seemingly further its agenda of promoting an anti-American and anti-capitalist sentiment. Due to mounting pressure to crack down on the organization before the 2004 Olympics, Greek authorities “made a major breakthrough” and “dealt … a crippling blow” by convicting fifteen members of the group of various crimes including homicide. Several members of the group, including Koufodinas, were handed multiple life sentences.

Koufodinas spent much of his time in Athens’ Korydallos Prison in solitary confinement. His lawyer states that “…at Domokos, he has to share a cell with other inmates, which makes it hard for him to read or listen to the radio in peace.” According to the American Psychological Association, “one of the very serious psychological consequences of solitary confinement is that renders many people incapable of living anywhere else … [prisoners] actually get to the point where they become frightened of other human beings.” Prosecutors for the state argue that the Korydallos Prison is no longer suitable for the detention of violent criminals and that Domokos is the only maximum-security prison available.

On Monday, the Lamia Judicial Council unanimously rejected Koufodinas’ petition to cancel Nikolaou’s order. The Judicial Council held that it was “not competent to rule on the order, which was an administrative act that must be judged in an administrative court.” Monday’s court ruling was followed by the Council of State’s refusal on Tuesday to grant immediate injunctive relief. The Council instead will rule on the legality of the transfer order on April 2, 2021.

Koufodinas is reported to be on a hunger strike for over two months now. Due to his deteriorating health condition, he was transferred last week to a hospital in Lamia where he was diagnosed with kidney damage and remains in serious condition. His lawyer maintains that the order to transfer him to Domokos was illegal and an “abuse of authority.”