Athens: Nine suspected members of a Greek armed anarchist group went on trial on Monday over a series of bomb attacks in a heavily policed Athens court set up inside a maximum security prison.
The group, mostly in their early 20s, are suspected members of the group Revolutionary Nuclei of Fire. Four other wanted suspects will be tried in absentia.
The suspects are on trial over bombings that targeted a government building and the office and home of two politicians — in each case causing no injuries and limited damage. They face a maximum of 25 years in prison.
Dozens of riot police stood guard outside Athens` Korydallos prison, amid fears of violent protests by supporters of the armed group. About 30 protesters chanted anti-government slogans near the court.
The anarchist group claimed responsibility for a spate of parcel bombings in November and the bombing of a court building last month — reflecting a surge in recent years in violence by anarchist and far-left militant groups.
Revolutionary Nuclei of Fire is accused of carrying out numerous arson attacks and bombings since it first appeared in early 2008.
Greece has been plagued by armed radical groups for decades, but the violence was typically limited to organisations with a small number of members.
"This is a decade that has seen change in organisation. In some ways it is more dangerous because the suspects are very young," criminologist Angelos Tsigris told private Skai television.
"It is a much more generalised phenomenon now, and no longer involves a very small number of people," he said.
"Of course their actions are condemned by society ... but there are lasting and underlying factors that encourage violence: State corruption, the lack of opportunities for young people, and the feeling among these people that they have no prospects."