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DAY 99: Examination of witness and plaintiff Sotiris Poulikogiannis

99th Hearing, Criminal Appeals Court, 3 November 2016

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. Confusion was caused today at 09:00, when counsels and spectators arrived, since the new measure of the police that admits Golden Dawn audience members and victims’ audience members from different entrances, did not work exactly as planned. It seems that the orders given to police guards weren’t clear enough, and as a result they gave wrong directions to those headed to the Court of Appeals Ceremony Hall. Despite these problems, there were journalists present and an increased number of spectators.

ΙΙ. Presence and representation of the defendants

Present at the proceedings were defendants Ioannis Kastrinos and Ioannis-Vasileios Komianos, while the civil action’s request is still pending regarding the personal appearance of the defendants involved as perpetrators in the separate case of the attack against members of PAME.

III. Continuation of examination of the witness and plaintiff Sotiris Poulikogiannis

A. Cross-examination of the witness by civil action counsels

Questioned by civil action counsel Malagaris the witness testified that he had read about sms messages sent by Michaloliakos that connect the Golden Dawn leader with “Freikorps” (assault squads) and attacks. The witness mentioned the ramping up of Golden Dawn attacks in September 2013, a month characterized by Michaloliakos himself as “The Greek September”.

In response to civil action counsel Kabagiannis’ questions the witness testified that the attacks of all cases under trial possess similarities as regards the time, the weapons used, the dress, the m.o., as well as the runaway vehicles, and that the perpetrator of all said attacks is Golden Dawn. The witness then stated that on the day following the attack on the Egyptian fishermen, Pantazis was identified as a participant. After the attack, Golden Dawn did not remove Pantazis from its ranks, quite the opposite -according to the witness- and as a result he participated in the attack against the members of PAME. Finally, he identified in recent photos: Pappas next to the Mussolini grave giving a Nazi salute, and Kasidiaris holding a large flag with a swastika. The civil action counsel at this point stated that the photo of Kasidiaris was retrieved from his [Kasidiaris’] cellphone.

Responding to questions from Papadakis the witness state he recalls Ahmed Abu Hamed selling fish at the fish auction since 2008, and that the Egyptians never caused problems and did not accept wages until they had sold every last fish in their cart. After the attack against the Egyptians, the fish auction labor unions were convinced it was the work of Golden Dawn. The civil action counsel then attempted to question the witness concerning the Lagos video. Amid protests the witness testified that in the video in question the attack was announced in advance, and that the aims of the Golden Dawn in the fish auction weren’t only the Egyptians and the unionists, which are still receiving threats, but control of the market, the prices, the wages, etc.

Responding to questions concerning the attack on his person, the witness stated that the weapons of the attackers were lethal, and that the perpetrators had deadly intent. The witness also stated that the chief of police, who came at the scene of the attack, ordered the policemen present to proceed with arrests, but they didn’t obey his orders. The witness spoke of the Golden Dawn’s status of impunity, and negligence on the part of the police.

Then, civil action counsel Christodoulou asked of the witness to describe what he saw in photos included in the trial files. The witness recognized the Perama S/Y cantina, in which can be seen Lagos, Michos, Panagiotaros, Patelis, and Pantazis. The witness added that the photograph was taken during the speech given by Lagos, when he talked about PAME lackeys, and he said that Lagos is responsible for relaying orders to the various G.D. cells. He also said that Patelis is also involved in the Fyssas case; that he is the commander of the Nikaia Golden Dawn cell; and that the witness recalls watching a video before the attack, taken at the Panagitsa festival, where he says “Pray for us to get the greenlight, whoever moves gets butchered”.

Responding to questions from Kougiatsou the witness stated that he was acquainted with Pavlos Fyssas and that he was a very popular person, but it was bad luck that he had to work side by side with the people that are now involved in his murder. More specifically, he said that in the past Fyssas had worked on the same ship with Michalaros, and that what happened to him [Fyssas] was deliberate. He also said that by the mode of attack on Fyssas and the PAME members it can be clearly deduced that Golden Dawn imposes military discipline on its members, and that it had a very specific plan. As the hospital doctor told him, the wound that killed Fyssas can in no way result by accident.

Responding to questions from Papadopoulou the witness stated that the attack on the members of PAME was organized after a barrage of sms text messages from the Golden Dawn headquarters to the Nikaia cell. The witness stated that he knows of three separate incidents that Golden Dawn caused in the Medecins de Monde branch in Perama, and that Golden Dawn members posing as indignant citizens routinely target immigrants, more than ever before and completely indiscriminately. Finally, he testified that the area is home to major financial interests by the Perama S/Y, COSCO, the bazaar, and the street fruit market.

Responding to questions by Tzellis, the witness answered that a deal has been struck in order to reduce the wages in the S/Y, and that they want to establish a cheap slave-labor union. There are workers that don’t get paid the collective agreement wages, but what they have agreed with various middlemen, who hire the people in direst straits and give them meager pay. The witness then stated that he believes that the S/Y contractors pay the middlemen that bring them cheap labor. Finally, after shown more photographs, the witness identified Michalaros in a photograph where everyone is wearing Golden Dawn t-shirts and are performing the Nazi salute. In other photos he described a parade wearing military garb, SS insignia next to the Greek flag, the celtic cross, backpacks, camo uniforms, and the swastika. He said that other photos depict the training of Golden Dawn members, and said that one of them supervises while the rest are holding weapons. The t-shirts read “Nikaia cell, Golden Dawn local organization”.

Β. Witness cross-examination by the defense counsels

It was the turn of defense counsels for defendants Antonakopoulos and Chatzidakis to ask questions. Responding to questions by defense counsel Aligizakis, the witness testified that Chatzidakis participated the same as everyone to actions taken by the workers, irrespective of political differences, and as an individual unsupported by any institution. The witness couldn’t note anything objectionable about Chatzidakis’ behavior, except that he recalls that one time at a meeting he was showing some martial moves and was explaining how to set up an ambush. As for why he didn’t mention the order shouted by Chatzidakis in his first deposition, the witness responded that immediately after the attack on his person, he went to a pharmacy to get an antitetanic serum injection, and after that he went home.  After resting for two hours he went to make his deposition. He gave his first deposition in which he said that Chatzidakis looked at someone standing behind the witness and said “What are you lookin’ at?” and the attack immediately begun.

In the second deposition he was asked in more detail how the attack unfolded. It was then that the witness answered his examiners, going into more detail about what he saw and heard. At his right was Chatzidakis, and behind him his comrades holding a banner. At his front was the semi-circle of Golden Dawners. To his right, diagonally in front of him stood Chatzidakis, and Antonakopoulos was next to him. The attack begun seconds after Chatzidakis spoke that sentence. He had the same to say about the club that hit him. In the second and more detailed deposition he spoke of the metal bits hammered at the ends of the attackers’ weapons. Someone was distracting him at the moment so he couldn’t say with certainty who was it that hit him. In any case, Antonakopoulos is one of the five suspects he has singled out concerning the hit on him. He went on to state that the strike was not direct, and that he remembers turning his torso. If he had been hit in the head, he wouldn’t be alive now, he said.

Amid tension in the Golden Dawn part of the audience and defense counsels, and after order was restored by the intervention of the presiding judge, the witness went on to say that the clubs that hit them could very well have killed them. When someone is holding a club, belongs to a criminal organization, sets up an ambush in the night, and hits people that have caused him no harm whatsoever, then he is capable of murder. There are many similar incidents, he continued, such as Tasos Isaak in Cyprus. In response to the question by the defense counsel as to why did he believe that 15 of the attackers wore helmets while the other 30 didn’t, and if there’s a possibility that only 15 of the 50 people were scared enough to hide their faces, the witness said that the helmet isn’t just used for concealment. It could be that the helmets in this particular attack played a specific part. Those that wear a helmet are protected against a counterattack, whereas a hood can only conceal the head, not protect it. This choice, according to the witness, shows that the attack had been planned in advance. As for the injury of Chatzidakis, the witness described the scene of the attack. He said that stones were being thrown [by the Golden Dawners] from behind the semi-circle. There are two possibilities that can explain the injury of Chatzidakis. Either it happened by an errant stone thrown by the attackers at the back, or it was caused by a stone gathered up by someone on the PAME side who then threw it back at the attackers. Finally, responding to questions from the defense counsel concerning his clients, he said he doesn’t know what they may have told them at Golden Dawn about the immigrants and the Aryan race. And that they obeyed orders with military discipline. The witness said that they had joined an organization with a specific ideology, which carried out attacks.

The last one to speak was defense counsel Anastasopoulou (for Kastrinos). The witness stated that he does not remember making the acquaintance of her client, since he regularly meets a lot of people. He went on to say that Kastrinos’ uncle told him that the witness and Kastrinos have met in the past, but the witness can’t remember it. Then the witness stated that he can’t recall who it was from his comrades that stood near him, so he can’t really say what was the line of sight each of them had. He stated he hadn’t seen Kastrinos, but that he had recognized Chatzidakis, Pantazis, and Antonakopoulos. It is possible, he said, that Pountidis and Zymaris identified Kastrinos during the attack; that they pointed him out in the photographs they were shown at the precinct; and that he doesn’t know who notified the KKE (The Communist Party of Greece) concerning the involvement of Kastrinos in the attack in question.

Finally, in response to a question by the defense counsel whether the witness has been accused of anything in the past, he stated that he has been the target of accusations based on a video in which he was shown quarreling with some policemen, and later in the same video there was someone else fighting with the policemen. He stated that it was proven he had nothing to do with the scuffle, and he was declared innocent. The witness then stated that in 2008 commenced a veritable production line of lawsuits against him and that in 2010 he was sued so that the union could be labelled a criminal organization. He and his family were dragged to court two and three times per week, but as he said there are no more cases pending, and that he was acquitted in every single one.

The presiding judge adjourned for Tuesday, the 8th of November 2016, when the aforementioned witness will continue with his testimony, questioned by the remaining defense counsels.