Dimitrios Ioannidis

Dimitrios Ioannidis
Dimitrios Ioannidis
Born 13 March 1923(1923-03-13)
Athens, Greece
Died 16 August 2010(2010-08-16) (aged 87)
Athens, Greece

Dimitrios Ioannidis (Greek: Δημήτριος Ιωαννίδης, 13 March 1923 – 16 August 2010),[1] also known as Dimitris Ioannidis, was a Greek military officer and one of the leading figures in the Greek military junta of 1967–1974.

He was born in Athens to a wealthy, upper middle-class business family with roots in Epirus.[2]

He studied at the Hellenic Military Academy and complemented his military education by studying at the Infantry School, the War School, and the School of Atomic-Chemical-Biological Warfare. [3]

Ioannidis took an active part in planning and executing the coup d'etat of 21 April 1967, but despite his great power he preferred to stay in the shadows allowing George Papadopoulos to take the limelight. He thus gained the nickname "the Invisible Dictator". Ioannidis became chief of the Greek Military Police (ESA) which he developed into a feared paramilitary force of more than 20,000 men. The ESA men brutally hunted down and tortured political dissidents. They also became notorious for beating and insulting their nominal superiors, the Generals of the Greek Army, who were generally royalist or republican and opposed to the junta leadership [4].

After the Athens Polytechnic uprising of November 1973, Ioannidis, the most hardline of hardliners, became enraged with the "liberalizing" tendencies of the Papadopoulos leadership and hatched a plot to overthrow him using his loyal ESA forces. Indeed, on the night of 25 November 1973, Ioannidis overthrew Papadopoulos in a successful coup. Papadopoulos was arrested by the loyalists of Ioanidis in his opulent seaside villa at Lagonissi. This was the second successful coup d'etat by Ioannidis, following the original of April 1967 which had abolished democracy. Ioannidis proceeded to install his friend and fellow Epirote Phaedon Gizikis as figurehead President of Greece, although total power belonged to him.

Ioannidis pursued a savage crackdown internally and an aggressive expansionism externally. He was determined to annex Cyprus to Greece and achieve Enosis. He also felt a bitter personal antipathy towards the President of Cyprus, Archbishop Makarios III, considering him opportunistic and communistic. He called him the "Red Priest" [5]. To that end, he organised the 15 July 1974 coup d'état in Cyprus which overthrew the government of Archbishop Makarios III. This was the third successful coup organized by Ioannidis, and at first things seemed to go along according to plan. Ioannidis put in power one of his puppets, the right-wing EOKA leader Nikos Sampson, and prepared to annex the island to Greece. However, the coup provided the pretext for Turkish invasion and partition of the island. This led to the Turkish invasion of the island on 20 July, which in turn led to the downfall of the Greek Junta and to metapolitefsi.

On 14 January 1975, Ioannidis was detained and tried on charges of high treason, rebellion, and of being an accessory to the manslaughters perpetrated during the Athens Polytechnic uprising. He was given a death sentence, later commuted to life imprisonment, which he was serving at Korydallos Prison.

On 21 July 2007, the 84 year-old Ioannidis filed a request to be discharged for health reasons.

Imprisoned until his death, he died on 16 August 2010 from respiratory problems, having been taken to hospital the previous night.[6]


  1. ^ "Former dictator Ioannidis dies at 87". Kathimerini. http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_politics_100010_17/08/2010_119077. Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  2. ^ Martin, Douglas (16 August 2010). "Dimitrios Ioannidis, Greek Coup Leader, Dies at 87". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/17/world/europe/17ioannidis.html. Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  3. ^ To Vima, 3/2/2002
  4. ^ Theodoracopoulos, the Greek Upheaval, 1978
  5. ^ Reader's Digest, vol. 107, 1975
  6. ^ "Πέθανε σε ηλικία 87 ετών ο δικτάτορας Δ.Ιωαννίδης" (in Greek), 16 August 2010.

External reference

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