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Official of Deposed Military Junta Commits Suicide in Athens Jail Cell

March 23, 1987|Associated Press

ATHENS — Former Gen. Odysseas Angelis, a leader of the military junta that ruled Greece from 1967 to 1973, committed suicide Sunday by hanging himself in his jail cell, prison officials said.

Angelis, 75, was found by Korydallos Prison guards. He had hanged himself with a length of electric cable in his cell, the officials said.

Angelis, a former chief of the armed forces, was vice president of the republic proclaimed by the military regime. He was serving a 20-year sentence for his role in the April 21, 1967, military coup.

A group of supporters of the former junta organized a peaceful march Sunday night to Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou's home to protest jail conditions for the 17 former officers imprisoned since 1975 for high treason and overthrowing democracy.

Angelis left no suicide note, but a copy of his will was found on the cell floor, prison officials said.

"Angelis reportedly told fellow prisoners recently that he was qualified to make a final gesture on behalf of those jailed, as the oldest and the only unmarried man among them," said Aristides Dimopoulos, a spokesman for the Greek Political Union. The small right-wing political party is nominally headed by imprisoned ex-Col. George Papadopoulos, the former junta leader.

The colonels' regime, accused of torturing and killing political opponents, collapsed after a short-lived, Greek-backed coup on Cyprus triggered a Turkish invasion of the island. Cyprus has a Greek majority and Turkish minority.

The cashiered officers claim they are political prisoners who were unjustly jailed.

Of the 20 former officers imprisoned for their role in the coup, two have died and one was freed after completing a 12-year sentence.

Angelis was a former artillery officer who served with Allied troops in the Middle East in World War II.

He did not play an active political role during the dictatorship, but he served briefly as vice president to Papadopoulos in 1973 after a referendum abolished the monarchy.

He was retired when Papadopoulos was overthrown in November, 1973, by the military police chief, Brigadier Dimitris Ioannides.

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