ATHENS (Reuters) - Fugitive Marxist guerrilla Christodoulos Xiros was preparing an armed assault on one of Athens’ main prisons when he was recaptured on Saturday near the capital, police said on Sunday.
Xiros, 56, a former member of the defunct guerrilla group November 17, had absconded while on leave from prison almost a year ago, to the embarrassment of the authorities.
Police chief Dimitris Tsaknakis said police had found eight Kalashnikov rifles, one grenade launcher, three handguns, a silencer, bags of explosives, switches and cables in the home Xiros had rented in the town of Anavissos.
They also found sketches of how the arsenal would have been hidden in a van that Xiros planned to use in the attack.
“The findings point to a big hit on the Korydallos prison, aiming to free prisoners. Based on notes we found, the attack would have taken place in the next days,” Tsaknakis said.
Civil Protection Minister Vassilis Kikilias said police had “averted a terrorist attack”.
Xiros himself was brought before a prosecutor on Sunday, handcuffed and wearing a bulletproof vest, to be charged with running a terrorist group and possession of weapons.
Xiros is already serving multiple life terms for his role in Greece’s most lethal guerrilla group, which killed Greek, U.S. and British diplomats before being dismantled in 2002.
While on the run, he appeared in a video vowing to avenge the economic pain that ordinary Greeks have suffered under international bailout programs supervised by a ‘troika’ of the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
“Resist the troika!” he said as armed anti-terrorist police put him in a van to drive him to court. A court official later said Xiros had told the prosecutor: “Our country is under the occupation of the troika and (German Chancellor Angela) Merkel; I consider it my duty to resist.”
Reporting by George Georgiopoulos; Editing by Kevin Liffey