Stephen Saunders (British Army officer)


Stephen Saunders (British Army officer)

Brigadier Stephen Saunders (1947 - 8 June 2000), the British military attaché in Athens, was killed on 8 June 2000 [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/782245.stm BBC News | EUROPE | British diplomat shot dead in Athens ] ] by motorcycle gunmen who were members of Revolutionary Organization 17 November (17N). Stephen Saunders was buried with a Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone in Melbury Osmund churchyard in Dorset, close to where he had previously lived.

Assassination and investigation

Saunders was attacked and shot dead while driving through Athens traffic on his way to work at the British Embassy, Athens at 7:48 am.

The investigation that followed led to an unprecedented level of co-operation between Greek and UK Police services, who achieved, following a lengthy investigation the arrest of members of the 17N terrorist organisation who were then brought to trial.

Further claims

In December 2005, Kleanthis Grivas published an article in "To Proto Thema", a major Greek investigative Sunday newspaper, in which he accused "Sheepskin", the Greek branch of Gladio, NATO's stay-behind paramilitary organization during the Cold War, of the assassination of CIA station chief Richard Welch in Athens in 1975, as well as of the assassination of Stephen Saunders in 2000. This was denied by the US State Department, whom declared that "the Greek terrorist organization '17 November' was responsible for both assassinations". The State Department didn't provide any counter-proof, but did highlight the fact that, in the case of Richard Welch, "Grivas bizarrely accuses the CIA of playing a role in the assassination of one of its own senior officials." while "Sheepskin" couldn't have assassinated Stephen Saunders for the simple reason, according to the US government, that "the Greek government stated it dismantled the “stay behind” network in 1988." [http://usinfo.state.gov/media/Archive/2006/Jan/20-127177.html]

Legacy

Since 2001 St. Catherine’s British Embassy School in Athens has been awarding the Stephen Saunders Award for Good Citizenship to a pupil with outstanding contribution to school life, society and the support of others.

References


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