Greek court declines speedy action on jailed hunger striker

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece’s highest administrative court on Tuesday refused to take immediate action on the bid — backed by a weeks-long hunger strike — by a far-left militant serving 11 life sentences for a string of murders to be transferred to a prison of his choice.

Dimitris Koufodinas, the main hit man for the now-defunct November 17 group, is on the 60th day of his hunger strike, as a result of which he suffered kidney failure last week. The 63-year-old is being treated in intensive care at a hospital in Lamia, some 215 kilometers (130 miles) north of Athens.

Sympathizers have staged a series of arson and vandalism attacks in recent days, while several protest marches have been staged in Athens and elsewhere to support Koufodinas’ demands.

According to state ERT TV,, the Council of State ruled Tuesday that it had no jurisdiction to temporarily freeze the order under which Koufodinas was transferred in December to a prison at Domokos, near Lamia. ERT said the court would rule on the legality of the transfer order on April 2.

Koufodinas wants to be returned instead to an Athens prison where he previously spent years in solitary confinement. His lawyer has argued 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.

November 17, which mixed Marxism with nationalism, killed 23 people, including U.S., British and Turkish diplomats, between 1975 and 2000. It was eradicated following a string of arrests in 2002 and subsequent convictions.

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