142nd Hearing, Court of Appeals, April 6th, 2017
I. Access to the Court
The courtroom remains open to the public upon presentation of a state ID card, which is retained by court authorities for the duration of the session. There was significant attendance from members of the press, reduced public attendance, and increased police presence in the courtroom. The hearing started at 11:00 due to a 2-hour strike of the employees in the Court of Appeals, in which the court registrar participated.
ΙΙ. Presence of defendants
None of the defendants was present at the hearing.
The hearing commenced with the conclusion of the comments by the defense counsels concerning the witness testimonies, and continued with the testimony of witness Antiochou Efstathiou concerning the assault that took place in Patra in August of 2013.
ΙV. Comments by the defense counsels concerning the witness testimonies
Defense counsel Pantazi stated, referring to Efstathios Boukouras, her principal, that the defendants’ personality traits are crucial pieces of information as regards their participation in criminal activities of a racist nature. Her principal, given his excellent, long term, and daily collaboration, for many hours at a time, with immigrants, cannot be considered a racist. She also mentioned that the civil action has gone to great lengths to criminalize the term “illegal immigration”, which had been coined by LAOS, many of whose supporters later became members of Golden Dawn, and so we can’t really claim that a person is automatically turned into a racist just because he starts supporting a different political party.
Defense counsel Nikos Michalolias spoke about a luxurious trial which permitted the witnesses to expound upon their ideological beliefs, and where these same witnesses contradicted each other frequently, both in the trial and pre-trial stages. He referred to three separate witness categories: the volunteers, those forced by their occupational duty (police officers), and eyewitnesses, who were often the victims in the cases in question. The latter, according to the defense counsel, were the most objective of all, even though their credibility has also been compromised by their exposure to the media and the urgings of the civil action counsels, and in the end believe no more they were just the eyewitnesses of an incident, but of an organized, military-grade attack, as the media prefers to call them. He also denounced the witnesses’ credibility that are connected to criminal, as he termed them, activities, such as the bars in Amerikis Square or Mr. Bilalis, who was renting a house to people that were living illegally in the country.
Defense counsel Giorgos Michalolias then took the floor, and stated that some of the incidents that were examined by the court did not even fall under article 187 CCP which deals with the formation of a criminal organization, since the case of “Synergeio” is listed as “assault and battery”, without further elucidation. He also made mention to the phenomenon of secondhand information, since most of the witnesses that testified were not eyewitnesses, but were relaying things witnessed by other people or things they had read in the media. Concerning the assault on the “Antipnoia” squat he said that the witness testimonies of Miliarakis and Rodriguez were an ideological manifesto about what is a state, a deep state, about the squat’s social struggle etc., whereas witness Rodriguez had said in his preliminary testimony that [the assailants had said] “We’re from Golden Dawn” and in the hearing testimony said that [they said] “Greetings from Golden Dawn” and this happened in order to implicate a certain political party. He also stressed that the crimes weren’t organized, since the victims did not identify a leader. The same pattern emerged, he went on, in the case of the Tanzanian community, since the victim himself did not appear to testify, but the president of the Tanzanian community came in his place. He mentioned the logical complaints the residents of the area made to the members of the community, given the conditions that had arisen from the operation of the bars in the area. He also said that the civil action is trying to frame the residents’ reactions as the reactions solely by members of Golden Dawn, but the residents included a Jew and a transsexual, who cannot have a Nazi ideology, and that also, based on a poll, 58% of Greeks hold a negative view of Muslim immigrants, and we cannot claim that they are all Golden Dawners. The same problem of secondhand information can be detected in the case of mosque arson in Athens, since even Elghandour Naim himself, who came to testify, wasn’t present when the incident took place, and there was no written record of the scale of the fire and the danger of death. Concerning the Salamina case, the defense counsel stated that the case has been resolved in the Court of Appeals, and that the principal defendant is not connected to Golden Dawn. Concerning the Palaio Faliro case, the motive was of an amorous nature, given that when Demertzidis woke up from surgery the first thing that he asked was whether Kambioti was safe, and the counsel claimed that the witnesses had been directed to speak about other, political motives. Concerning the Ierapetra case, the defense counsel said that the witnesses, who supposedly don’t speak Greek, gave their preliminary testimonies without the aid of an interpreter, and at the hearing testified with another victim acting as an interpreter. Concerning witness Bilalis, he stated that what is apposite to the composition of the charge under article 187 CCP, the fire that is, was not put down as burns when he was giving his preliminary testimony, but as red marks that then became burns during the hearing, and the two people with burns became one person.
Defense counsel Roussopoulos then took the floor and spoke about a medical miracle, during which the witnesses do not recognize certain things during the preliminary stage, but enrich their testimonies 4 years later. He also stressed that most of the witnesses bring as evidence against Golden Dawn things they have seen on the internet or the media, and the gospel according to Efimerida ton Syntakton, the newspaper that covers Gay Pride and calls a defense counsel the “Golden Dawner counsel”. Concerning “Synergeio” the counsel said that ordinary citizens came under attack, and that Drimylis’ life and times are well-known. Concerning the “Antipnoia” squat, he did not attend as a personal statement, because he did not want to encourage people that trash the streets of Athens, burn down Universities, and speak about class differences and the deep state. Concerning the Tanzanian community bars, the counsel said that there are charges of prostitution that have caused problems to the residents of the area. Concerning the arson at the mosque, he said that witness Naim met with Erdogan’s son in Thrace under a banner that read “Welcome, our liberator of the oppressed”. Concerning the incident with Demertzidis, he said that there is a testimony by a person who says he saw Demertzidis fondling Kambioti, and that it is a story of adolescent love that is fit for a TV series, but it should not occupy the Court’s time. Concerning the Ierapetra case the defense counsel said that the supposed victims did not come to testify. The only witness was Bilalis, who is driven by political enmity, who was the president of the Lasithi Hotel Employees Association and the thing that bothered him was that the third political party in Greece opened a local chapter in Ierapetra.
Defense counsel Aggeletos said that Rodriguez exhibited irregular behavior and he is obviously hateful, because he said that he won’t answer questions by fascist lawyers and that the courts are the long arm of the system. He also said that the African community won’t do anything about the women forced into prostitution and that his client who spoke about untermenschen, despite the fact that she was under emotional strain, the Muslims that are coming into the country at present are radicals, fanatics, that don’t recognize women’s rights, that throw homosexuals from roofs, and stone adulterers to death.
Defense counsel Alexiadis said about the “Synergeio” case that no one identified the vehicle of his principal, but that someone saw them and reported a license plate number. A crime, in order to be labeled as such, must bear certain characteristics that are here lacking, since there is no forensic report, or any other document. Mister Drimylis just said that he had some bruises and we need proof, not the circumstantial evidence that is needed in the preliminary stage. Concerning Demertzidis he said that all the witnesses have a modus operandi, they passionately report some incidents that they don’t know why they mentioned during the preliminary testimonies. All of them try not to describe real events, but to exaggerate all the time.
Defense counsel Kassis said that this trial is a criminal trial, not an ideological one, and it must remain a criminal trial. As he said, there were witnesses that admitted to illegal activities, and the fact that we are at the trial of Golden Dawn does not mean that providing room and board to illegal immigrants isn’t illegal. He stressed that “most of the witnesses come to state their ideological coordinates, not to testify about the real events that are connected to the trial”.
V.Testimony of witness Antiochos Efstathiou
Examination by the members of the court
Responding to questions by the presiding judge, the witness stated that he is a counsel and a resident of Patra and that in August of 2013 his son was attacked by Golden Dawners as he was going to meet a friend. The witness was notified by his wife and went to the police station where he saw his son in an agitated state, and his face was all red. As his son described it, the only thing he heard was three people that were running towards him and shouting “Stop right there”. He was scared and stopped, no other people were around. They were three young men that wore camo pants and black shirts, one sleeve had the Greek flag and the other the Golden Dawn logo, and on the back was emblazoned with white letters the words GOLDEN DAWN. He remembers one of the three men, but he couldn’t identify him in the photos he was shown. He was asked for identification and when he told them that he hasn’t got it with him, they started punching and kicking him in the face and then they left him there. According to the witness, his son isn’t politically active or active in social causes, and believes that it was a random event, that “they didn’t like the look of him”. He wasn’t “normal” because he had a ponytail, earrings, and a beard, and was therefore not to their liking. This is a pattern that has been observed in the past and came up these days once more when a student was attacked because they simply didn’t like the look of him, as he said. They also told his son “Nazis are in charge here now”. Responding to a question about whether he tried to find who it was that attacked his son, the witness said that he did, to no avail. But he was also afraid that he would bring disaster upon himself. Concerning other incidents in Patra, he stated that in that same year, or the one before it, an immigrant had stabbed a resident of Patra, a Greek, and Golden Dawn had mobilized, as was also the case during small scale clashes in the camps. The witness said that a few days after the incident a friend of his son phoned the witness and told him that some time ago Golden Dawn had broken his teeth, and asked him what he should do about it. The witness advised him to report it to the police no matter what the consequences, because actions such as these should not be left unprosecuted. He also reported the matter to the president of the Patra Bar Association who, when more incidents followed, issued a press release in solidarity to the victims of racist violence.
The state prosecutor then asked the witness if he has filed charges and he said that his son lodged a complaint against persons unknown, and when the deputy state prosecutor asked him what he’s afraid of, since he’s a counsel, the witness said “I’m still afraid today, whether this incident can have consequences in my personal and family life. They asked me whether I want to be photographed and I said no. I’m afraid about the smallest thing that can happen to me. I believe that they are ruthless and ready for anything. They have proven it with their actions all these years”. Finally, he stressed that phrases such as “You’re not one of us. I don’t like the looks of you. What are you, an anarchist?”, are phrases they would say to any citizen they didn’t like.
Examination by the civil action counsels
The witness answered, in turn, to questions by civil action counsels Tobatzoglou, Vrettos, Sapountzaki, Malagaris, Stratis, Kabagiannis, and Zotos. More specifically, responding to a relevant question about whether they ran a check on his son to see if he was Greek or the child of an acquaintance of theirs, because he’s dark-skinned. Concerning Golden Dawn he said that he has seen in the media what they do, and their activity is above all dangerous. The result of their actions is that they were attacking vulnerable citizens, mainly immigrants, who had no way to defend themselves, and he also mentioned that their activity has roots in modes of violence from years past. When he was asked if he’s afraid for his life because of the cases he takes on, he said “No, I’m not. I agonize over the outcome of each case, but here I’m afraid for my life”. He said that he’s afraid of Golden Dawn, because they did not hesitate to attack his son, to attack the student recently, to murder Fyssas, and so they wouldn’t hesitate to attack the witness. He also testified that he didn’t know who gave the order for the attack, just that they were from Golden Dawn. Responding to questions, he said that their aim is to terrorize and that these people have been recruited, and that they have a specific mode of operation.
At this point the presiding judge adjourned for Friday, April 7th, 2017, in the Women’s Wing of Korydallos Prison, when the witness testimony of Antiochou Efstathiou is slated to be concluded.