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May Day 1976: Anti-junta resistance hero and independent MP Alekos Panagoulis, 37, dies before dawn on May 1 after the car he was driving skidded off Vouliagmenis Ave and crashed into a wall at high speed. Despite media allegations of murder, based on witnesses' claims that a car chase had preceded the crash, public prosecutor Dimitris Tsevas concluded a monthlong investigation by declaring Panagoulis' death an 'accident'. The event that made Panagoulis very popular among democrats in Greece and abroad was his botched attempt on the life of dictator George Papadopoulos on August 13, 1968. He was arrested by Papadopoulos' police guards near the coastal Athens-Sounio highway when the bomb he remote-detonated missed the armoured limousine carrying Papadopoulos. After weeks of gruesome interrogation in the infamous military police (ESA) torture chambers, Panagoulis was sentenced to death by a court martial on November 17, 1968. His execution was suspended amid worldwide protests and petitions to save his life. He remained incarcerated for another five years until his release on August 19, 1973, when Papadopoulos granted pardon to all 'political prisoners' in an abortive bid to 'liberalise' his regime. Following the collapse of military rule in 1974, Panagoulis won a seat in parliament under the banner of the Centre Union in the general elections of November 17, 1975. Barely two weeks before his death on April 14, 1976, Panagoulis quit the Centre Union party, while retaining his seat as an independent MP. At the same time, the Athens daily 'Ta Nea' began publishing fragments of the 'ESA archives', which Panagoulis had seized from the home of one of his convicted interrogators

ATHENS NEWS , 02/05/2003, page: A13
Article code: C13012A131


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