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Key player in Greek military coup dies

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Dimitris Ioannidis was head of Greek military police
  • He died of respiratory failure after 35 years in prison

Athens, Greece (CNN) -- A leading figure in Greece's 1967 military coup died Monday after spending 35 years behind bars, according to state news reports in Athens.

Dimitris Ioannidis, 87, died of respiratory failure at a Piraeus-area hospital after being transferred from nearby Korydallos penitentiary, the state-owned Athens News Agency reported Monday. He was serving a life sentence.

The 1967 coup led to a seven-year military dictatorship under Georgious Papadopoulos. Ioannidis served as the chief of the feared Greek military police, or ESA, during the military junta, according to ANA.

In November 1973, following a student uprising at the Athens Polytechnic, Ioannidis, then a brigadier general, toppled Papadopoulos. The following year, Ioannidis' even harsher dictatorship engineered a coup d'etat in Cyprus the following year to remove President Archbishop Makarios, ANA said.

That prompted Turkey to invade Cyprus in July 1974. Parts of Cyprus still remain under Turkish control.

No funeral arrangements for Ioannidis have been announced, ANA reported.