164th Hearing, Women’s Wing, Korydallos Prison, June 20th, 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, until all audience seats in the courtroom are filled. Few journalists and spectators showed up in court today.
II.Presence of defendants
None of the defendants was present at the hearing.
III. Testimony of witness Athanasios Kourkoulas continues
A. Examination of the witness by the members of the court continues
The witness testified that in 2010 he was a regional candidate with the party of Alekos Alavanos. At the time his official capacity was teacher in the 2nd Lyceum of Ano Liosia, but he had been posted to the SYRIZA parliamentary group concerning the parliamentary work on human rights. Since then, he has left SYRIZA and he has been teaching for the past two years. He participates in the Movement “Deport Racism” and in the Sunday School for Immigrants.
The witness pointed out that the incidents in the Agios Panteleimonas Square show the attempts of Golden Dawn to make a ghetto of that particular area. At the time, in 2010, the witness and his comrades had gathered there for a rally and, shortly before reaching the Agios Panteleimonas Square, Skordeli passed by on a motorcycle, escorted by more motorcycles, and started swearing at them. When the rally got near the square, a group of people that included Plomaritis, Panagiotaros, Skordeli, were there and started shouting at them “Get out from our square” and threw at them eggs and other objects. They numbered about 40 people, and some of them were muscular and others were wearing hoods. The policemen approached –half a riot police unit on one side and half on the other– after the witness and his comrades were attacked. Following an ex officio criminal prosecution the witness was called to testify in GADA. When, seven years later, the case went to trial, he was the plaintiff –the defendants had been identified by him and by videos gathered and analyzed by the police– and four defendants were convicted of unprovoked insults.
The witness then described an incident in Attiki Square. He received a phone call by two directors, who informed him that Golden Dawners had gathered outside a place of worship. The witness headed there, and when he was 50-100 meters from the mosque, he saw 40 people outside it, who were shouting “Immigrants get out of Greece, we will burn you”. After he departed the scene, at about 22:00, the mosque was set on fire with the use of a flammable substance. The witness doesn’t know exactly what happened, but the people in the mosque managed to get out. According to the witness, the next day the mosque’s façade was full of Golden Dawn stickers. He read a report that an Egyptian had been stabbed by the gathered people, and he read more in the newspaper Eleftherotypia. Despite the fact that the Egyptian had been stabbed, he was the one that was accused of carrying a knife – something which was not valid. According to the witness, “At the time, the stance of the Agios Panteleimonas Police Station was extremely problematic”, while today, after the suspension of a number of police officers, no such problems exist.
The witness described in brief another incident, on November 16th, 2010, once more in Agios Panteleimonas, when groups of Golden Dawners had gathered in nearby streets and attempted to attack people that were on their way to prayer. He also described another incident, which he heard from the vice-president of the Moroccan community, who was threatened by a policeman who had harassed a Moroccan woman. The police officer, to prevent the woman and the vice-president from pressing charges, threatened them that he would send Golden Dawn at their houses and passed with the patrol car outside their homes for days, in order to intimidate them.
The witness referred to a threat he received in Alkiviadou Street, and to an attack on an Afghan man. Following this last attack, the witness, as a member of the Movement “Deport Racism” had gone with members from other groups (the Human Rights Group of SYRIZA, residents of the 6th municipal district etc.) to the Agios Panteleimonas Police Station demanding that steps be taken to protect the lives and safety of people in the area, both immigrants and Greeks, and to record the incidents of violence against them.
The witness also referred to an attack on journalists in Korinthos –who had gone there to photograph immigrants– by a group of people. According to the witness, the news at the time had reported that the owner of the car was a member of Golden Dawn, and that someone could have died.
According to the witness, the Movement “Deport Racism” has been based since 2005 in the Kolonos area, in offices that were granted to them by Diethnistiki Ergatiki Aristera [:Internationalist Workers’ Left], an former component of SYRIZA. There had been no problems with Golden Dawn in 2005, the problems started in 2008.
Concerning the rally in Kolokotroni Square, the witness pointed out that the police had been notified about the rally organized by the witness and his comrades, and that it wasn’t a counter-demonstration. According to the witness, the rally was organized to prevent the riots of previous years, and the responsibility for the fact that these were repeated lies entirely with the police, who did not form a barrier between the two rallies. According to the witness, at one point the police officers were running side by side with the Golden Dawners.
Responding to a relevant question the witness stated that all the incidents that he described share common characteristics: they are organized, there is a leader, military-style Golden Dawn units that wear uniform clothes and use pepper spray and knives, which move in ranks, similar to the riot police units. Their victims are often immigrants or refugees or citizens that express their solidarity to them. The goal of Golden Dawners was to intimidate their political opponent, to attract more members to their ranks, to supplant the rule of law and the police with violence, etc. Today the violent incidents have decreased in number, but they do exist –e.g. immigrants were attacked in Aspropyrgos, and a student was attacked in Mesogeion Ave.– and this decrease can be attributed to the prosecution Golden Dawn faced after the murder of Pavlos Fyssas.
B. Examination of the witness by the civil action counsels
The witness was questioned in turn by civil action counsels Sapountzaki, Zafeiriou, Theodoropoulos, Papadopoulou, Christodoulou, Kabagiannis, and Papadakis.
The witness testified that on February 2nd, 2008, a Golden assault squad attacked a rally that he attended and not the reverse – something that is obvious from the news reports that were published at the time.
According to the witness the criminal activity of Golden Dawn can be shown by its organized goal of hurting people, by its racist motives that aim to intimidate, “by the violent evacuation of every square, every social space. With the creation of ‘clean zones’”. The witness added that Golden Dawn has a history of such activities, as can be shown that even in the ’80s a lot of attacks had taken place, and that “Their entry to parliament did not diminish their activity, on the contrary it increased it.” Golden Dawn follows a Nazi ideology which is absolutely connected to the activities that he described in his testimony.
Concerning the attack of Golden Dawn on the Old Appeals Court, Michaloliakos was present, had full knowledge, and did nothing to prevent it. According to the witness, no one can claim that the Golden Dawners would do anything against their leader’s wishes. The approach of the Golden Dawn assault squad from Omonoia Square to the Old Appeals Court was not realized in order to inspect the sanitation conditions in the building, but in order for Golden Dawn to prove that “the Appeals Court could be ‘cleaned up’ with their methods”.
The witness testified that rallies are being organized by resident groups friendly to SYRIZA or KKE, but they have a different modus operandi, “They don’t stab people”. The witness noted that Golden Dawn limited its activity against immigrants, without turning against whoremongers, extortionists etc. saying that “a Greek criminal is preferable to an honest immigrant”.
C. Examination of the witness by the defense counsels
The witness was questioned in turn by defense counsels Kontovazenitis, Dimitrakopoulos, Tsagas, Michalolias (P.). Zografos, Velentza, Roussopoulos, and Alexiadis.
The witness clarified that he believes that Golden Dawn is a Nazi and fascist party, something which is shown by its salutation, its ideology, and its racist rhetoric. According to the witness, there is racism on the immigrants’ side –although never generalized–, however the problem is the dominant racism.
Furthermore, the witness clarified that he is the trustee of a non-profit organization – Movement “Deport Racism”, which has never received any financing by the state, companies, or European programs.
As for the state of affairs in the Old Appeals Court, the Movement he is a participant of had reached out to the Municipality of Athens and the Ministry of the Interior. The witness did not notice any criminal activity taking place in the Old Appeals Court, noting that living conditions were very bad, due to sanitation factors.
Golden Dawn has never attempted to murder the witness, however from time to time he receives threatening phone calls. The witness has been sued by A. Lagios and was found innocent, and the charges brought against him by Panagiotaros have been shelved.
When asked about the incident with Tasoulas, the witness stated that no charges were brought against Tasoulas and that he thought it unbelievable that the police, instead of bringing in the people that were beating him, arrested Tasoulas “for his own protection”.
When asked why he mentioned at some point that he was afraid, the witness said: “I was afraid because I believe that the police do not do their job when there are assault squads that stab people”.
At this point the presiding judge adjourned for June 26th, 2017, in the Court of Appeals, where the examination of witness A. Kourkoulas by the defense counsels is expected to conclude.