Greek far-left extremist to carry hunger strike 'to the end'

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ATHENS, Greece (AP) — A Greek far-left extremist serving 11 life terms for a string of murders vowed Friday to continue "until the end" a hunger strike if his bid to get a new leave from prison isn't granted.

Dimitris Koufodinas, chief hit man for the November 17 group that killed 23 people from 1975-2000, also said in a statement issued through his lawyer that he will refuse any medical assistance.

Koufodinas, 61, is in hospital due to the hunger strike he started May 2, after authorities in his prison near the town of Volos in central Greece rejected his furlough request — a decision upheld Friday by a council of judges

The council noted that Koufodinas, who was convicted in 2003, still poses a threat to public security and has never repented for his violent past.

Koufodinas' lawyer, Ioanna Kourtovik, said the rejection of his request is "extremely unfair."

Starting in late 2017, Koufodinas has been granted six furloughs — once after a hunger strike — and has been transferred from a maximum-security Athens prison to the laxer penitentiary near Volos.

This treatment has been criticized as unduly lenient by relatives of his victims and U.S. officials. Four U.S. nationals, including the CIA station chief in Athens, were among the victims of N17, which professed a mix of Marxism and nationalism.

The jailed extremist is very popular with Greek anarchist groups, who have mounted a campaign in his support that included threats to judges involved in reviewing his furlough request and repeated acts of vandalism.

On Friday, a group of anarchists invaded the Athens offices of Avgi newspaper, which strongly backs Greece's governing Syriza party, to protest the ruling against his leave from prison.

Late Thursday, about 30 hooded youths protesting in favor of his cause smashed the windows of more than 20 shops and two banks in central Athens.

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