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Day 102: Cross-examination of witness and plaintiff Panagiotis Goutis

102nd hearing, Women’s Wing, Korydallos Prison, November 11th, 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. There were journalists and a number of spectators present.

II. Presence and representation of the defendants

At the start of the proceedings there were only two (2) defendants present, I. Kastrinos and I.-V. Komianos.

III. Proceedings

A. Examination of witness and plaintiff Panagiotis Goutis by the court.

The witness is a foil roller in the Perama Shipping Yards (henceforth S/Y), a member of the Pireaus Metalworkers’ Union and of PAME. He testified that on the night of September 12th, 2013, about 17 people had gathered to put up posters in the S/Y area to propagandize the KNE festival, without previously announcing the action. They were all members of PAME, and half of them were working in the S/Y.

A little before 24:00 the witness and his companions had made their third stop to put up posters, when out of an alley came two groups of 25 persons each -“an assault squad of the Nazi organization Golden Dawn”, according to the witness- and surrounded the PAME members. According to the witness the two groups were trained in a military fashion, and were carrying “crowbars, clubs, brass knuckles, makeshift poles with metal bits at the ends, stones the younger of them, each had something in his hand”. These two groups united and took up the entire street, and stood very close to the witness and his companions, who thus had a good line of sight on them. There were about 50 people arranged in three tiers: The people in the first tier were carrying clubs, those in the second were carrying the makeshift poles, and those in the third, the younger ones, were carrying stones. They were all dressed in black, emblazoned with the meander logo etc.

At that point a question was heard: “Where’s Poulikogiannis?” and Pantazis and Chatzidakis came forward and introduced themselves as members of Golden Dawn. They told the members of PAME “to get lost, this is Golden Dawn territory.” Then the aforementioned Pantazis and Chatzidakis turned their backs and from the third tier of the group 4 large stones were hurled towards the members of PAME. The witness thought that the turning of the back was the signal to start the attack.

The target of the attackers was the labor union president, S. Poulikogiannis. According to the witness, whoever was in his place, “even a fly, then that’s what they would strike”. During the attack the witness and his companions drew together, covered themselves behind their cars, and tried to defend themselves, or else someone would have died. Of the 17 members of PAME, half of them were hit by the attackers, with most of the hits aiming for the head. The attack lasted about 5 minutes. Then a female voice was heard saying that the police had been called and the two squads retreated. Not a single vehicle passed during the attack, something the witness attributes to the organized manner of the operation, since they must have blocked the street to prevent traffic.

The witness was positive that there were policemen about 50-60 meters away, but they just observed the unfolding of the attack, and did nothing to stop it. The attacking Golden Dawners thought they had free license, and did not carry out the attack to the end, not because they feared the intervention of the police, but because even a free license has its limits, and they couldn’t keep up the attack for much longer.
According to the witness, the attackers’ goal was not to intimidate, or they wouldn’t have aimed for the head, but lower, at the body. Plus, they had pre-set the duration of the attack, they had rehearsed it, they were trained, and they left when the time limit was exceeded. Poulikogiannis was covered in blood, and the witness’s clothes, who had helped him, were drenched, too. The witness protested to the policemen that failed to intervene, and they answered “What should we do, shoot them?”, when they could have easily noted down the license plates of the perpetrators’ vehicles. As the witness said, due to its layout, Perama makes it very easy to arrest people, if traffic is checked at certain crucial points. Then came the ambulances to collect the wounded.

The witness speculated that the perpetrators were informed about the PAME poster action by policemen, so as to know where to find him and his companions and attack them. The witness stated that the attackers had deadly intent and that their motive was to drive out the PAME labor union from the S/Y, because it is proving an impediment to the employers’ plans. A meeting had taken place between the chief contractors and the Golden Dawn leadership, since both stood to gain from the weakening or extermination of the Piraeus Metalworkers’ Union – financial gain for the contractors and political gain for Golden Dawn. The witness stated that “They turn against the workers. One of their [G.D.’s] goals is to stamp out everything different. We are communists and they are fascists. In the S/Y elections we take 80% of the vote. We are what stands between the contractors and the realization of their plans.”

The witness then mentioned the public statements of Lagos and Panagiotaros. He also reported the by now known sms text messages sent before and after the attack, which talk about “bashing the communists” and “butchering” them. The witness believes that the perpetrators were merely the instruments, and that the Golden Dawn leadership, i.e. Michaloliakos, was directing the attack. He went on to mention more attacks from Golden Dawn members, such as those on the Egyptian fishermen, the attack on “Antipnoia” center, and the murder of P. Fyssas.

The witness stated that if the attackers had managed to kill them, “they would have sowed fear in the S/Y. The people would be afraid to speak up. Had Poulikogiannis been killed it would have been very difficult to replace him. It wouldn’t be the same with a traffic accident, for example.” And he pointed out that he had received threats. His [Poulikogiannis’] car had been trashed by the attackers and the damage came to about 5,000 euros.

B. Cross-examination of witness and plaintiff Panagiotis Goutis by the civil action counsels.

The witness was questioned by the civil action counsels in the following order: Vrettos, Sapountzakis, Malagaris, Stratis, Zafeiriou, Antanasiotis, Theodoropoulos, Papadopoulou, Tobatzoglou, Zotos, and Kabagiannis. The witness in effect cleared up a few points about the attack on him and his companions, and explained some things in photos he was shown (such as the confiscated makeshift weapon, and the specific location of the attack).
More specifically, the witness referred to “assault squads”, to the “slave labor” -as he termed it- union “Agios Nikolaos”, to the hierarchical organization of Golden Dawn, and to other attacks carried out by its members from time to time. The witness stated that, at the time of the attack, he thought Poulikogiannis to be dead, since he had lost his senses and he was covered in blood. Among other things, the witness stated that it was a “military, pre-planned attack, with intent to kill”. Regarding Golden Dawn the witness believes that its ideology is Nationalism-Socialism, that it is the enemy of everything that is different, that it seeks to ascend to power through the use of assault squads, and that it has become the “long arm of the contractors” in the S/Y. This particular attack, he stated, is different from the rest, because it was directed “against the Communist Part of Greece”. And that couldn’t have happened without a decision from the highest echelon. It was a decision coming directly from Michaloliakos and the others.”

The witness stated that the damage to the car of Zymaris’ spouse was to the extent of 2,500 euros, but the amount had been declared as lower than that because its owner was afraid.

C. Cross-examination of witness and plaintiff Panagiotis Goutis by the defense counsels.

Due to lack of time, the witness was questioned only by defense counsel Alygizakis. The questions mostly had to do with the weapons carried by the attackers. The witness, answering to the questions posed to him, which aimed to detect contradictions between the preliminary and the hearing depositions, stated that “the communist morals do not allow me to say things that aren’t valid.”

At this point the hearing was adjourned for Monday, November 14th, 2016, when the witness’s cross-examination by the defense counsels will continue.