A political maelstrom has erupted after the justice ministry’s transfer bureau decided to transfer the N17 terrorist group’s hitman, who is serving multiple life sentences, from Korydallos prison to the agricultural prisons in Volos.

Beyond the provocative decision, many questions have been raised about the timing of the move, at a time when media attention is focused on the tragedy at Mati and the dozens of dead.

The news provoked the outrage of New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Dora Bakoyanni (whose husband, Pavlos Bakoyannis was murdered by Koufodinas), and her daughter Alexia.

Mitsotakis: The country mourns and they secretly transfer Koufodinas

Kyriakos Mitsotakis unleashed a harsh attack on Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on his Twitter account.

In a tweet addressed to Tsipras, he said that the transfer was arranged on the sly, at a time when, “Greece is mourning and citizens attribute to you personal responsibilities over your incompetence, cynicism, and cover-up”.

Given all that, he asked, “Is it a priority to perform a service for a serial killer?”

Dora Bakoyannis: Serial killer transferred to luxury prison

Former foreign minister and ND MP Dora offered harsh criticism in a tweet both about the prison transfer and the government’s handling of the fire disaster.

“Incompetent to protect citizens and to react in a fundamental manner to the catastrophe, you are extremely competent in making a tailor-made gift arrangement, transferring to a luxury prison N17’s serial killer Koufodinas,” Bakoyannis wrote.

Alexia Bakoyannis: Tsipras is either being blackmailed or conducting a transaction

The daughter of the late journalist and ND MP Pavlos Bakoyannis, who was murdered by N17 on 26 September, 1989, issued her own message in an interview with SKAI television.

“First of all I want to say that for all of us, all the families of the victims of Mr. Koufodinas personally and of all of 17N, this is the latest incident over the last three years in which there has been one deviation after the other as regards our dead,” she said.

“The broader treatment that Mr. Koufodinas has the privilege of enjoying is impressive. We have youths that have been jailed for possession of a small amount of drugs, and the greatest post-war serial killer is being transferred to an agricultural prison. That means that he can stroll all day, engage in some agricultural activities, and go to one of the small houses to sleep at night. That is what we are talking about. We keep others in jail so that we can send the biggest murderer ever, who has never shown remorse for anything, to an agricultural prison,” she said, stressing that families want a just punishment of terrorists.

Alexia Bakoyannis also harshly criticised the PM. “For what is constantly happening since this government was elected, which is topped off by today’s move, which cannot be defended logically and emotionally, the only explanation I can give is that Mr. Tsipras is either being blackmailed or is involved in a transaction,” she said.

Justice Minister: We are transferring those serving a life sentence

Justice Minister Stavros Kontonis said that the transfer was absolutely legal, and he said Koufodinas was transferred in the context of a reorganisation of Korydallos Prison.

He said that the fact that Dimitris Koufodinas is being transferred to another prison does not mean he will have privileged treatment.

Justice Ministry statement

A lengthy statement issued by the justice ministry attempted to explain the rationale on which Koufodinas’ transfer is based:

“Regarding the transfer of a prisoner from Korydallos Prison to another prison, we state the following:

Korydallos Prison, as Justice Minister Stavros Kontonis has announced, is gradually being transformed into a prison for those standing trial and is being completely reorganised. Those serving a life sentence will not be incarcerated there. The policy of the justice ministry is to transfer as many prisoners as possible to agricultural prisons.

This specific transfer decision [regarding Koufodinas] was taken by the Central Transfers Committee, and was based on all the preconditions set out in the law. It would be well that those with an interest after the fact know that the law was implemented absolutely.

The transfer to another r prison does not imply preferential treatment, a reduced sentence, or semi-free living conditions. The term is being served normally. There are a large number of prisoners with life sentences at agricultural prisons, and that has never caused a problem. We would like to inform Mr. Kyriakos Mitsotakis that prison transfers are not announced or conducted with drumbeats, unless he has different information from the period in which he served as a minister. Finally, Mr. Mitsotakis’ attempt to link this transfer to the national tragedy we are experiencing, is yet another effort to exploit the dead. He would do well to learn that the operations of the state do not stop in the difficult moments that our country is facing”.