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Terror Suspect Talks of Greek Murder

August 29, 2002 GMT

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ATHENS, Greece (AP) _ The four-member death squad that ambushed a CIA station chief in 1975 included the alleged founder of the November 17 terrorist group and a mysterious woman, news reports said Thursday quoting a confessed accomplice.

The statements by Pavlos Serifis, a 46-year-old switchboard operator, expand on his earlier accounts of the first slaying by the once-elusive terrorist cell.

Serifis had previously told authorities he was a lookout at the killing and claimed the alleged November 17 founder, Alexandros Giotopoulos, fatally shot CIA station chief Richard Welch. The latest statements to prosecutors, leaked to the Greek media, added further details and named other alleged participants: Serifis’ cousin Yiannis Serifis and a blonde woman known only as Anna.

Fifteen suspected members of the group have been arrested since a botched bombing in late June gave police their first major break.

Giotopoulos denies any connection to November 17 _ linked by authorities to 23 killings and scores of bombings and robberies.

The families of 11 murder and attempted murder victims have joined a civil suit against the November 17 suspects. The latest to file was industrialist Vardis Vardinoyiannis, who survived a rocket attack against him in 1990.

Yiannis Serifis has not been arrested and he also denies any link to the group. Police have not said whether they have more information on a possible female suspect.

A 20-year statute of limitations prevents Greek prosecutors from bringing charges in the Welch slaying and three others. But Giotopoulos and Pavlos Serifis face other charges related to November 17′s 27 years of violence.

Serifis reportedly said Giotopoulos _ also known by the code name Lambros _ ``suggested we do some act against the Americans, and specifically to hit ... Welch. He convinced us and undertook the task of writing a document for the ideological support of this hit.″

November 17, rooted in a mix of hard-line Marxism and fervent nationalism, takes its name from the day in 1973 when military rulers crushed a student-led protest. Serifis claimed Giotopoulos picked the name.

The group watched Welch for a month and decided he would be the target because ``he did not take measures for protection,″ Serifis was quoted as saying.

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Like other suspects whose statements were leaked to media, Serifis considered Giotopoulos the group’s leader and claimed Giotopoulos decided its targets.

``In the whole course of this group, I did not identify a person with greater power than Lambros,″ he reportedly said.