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Day 69: Cross-examination of Xypolitos (continued)

69th Hearing, Womens Wing, Korydallos Prison, Athens, 28 June 2016

1. Court access

The courtroom remains open to the public on presentation of a state ID card, which is retained by police for duration of the session. Apart from journalists and the Fyssas family, there were few spectators present.

2. Presence and representation of defendants

Sixteen of the 19 defendants whose physical presence had been ordered by the court were in attendance. Defendant Anastasios Michalaros’ wife appeared on his behalf to state that her spouse could not get leave from his employer but she did not submit any documents to support this. Counsel for defendant Ioannis Komianos said he was en route. The other defendants were represented by counsel.

3. Resumption of the cross-examination of witness Michalis Xypolitos

Michalis Xypolitos, a friend of Pavlos Fyssas, returned to the stand for cross-examination.

Eleni Zafiriou concluded the civil action examination of the witness. Responding to her questions, Xypolitos said that the Golden Dawn’s follows a fascist and Nazi ideology and that the assault squads and political party use the swastika and meander as symbols. The witness said that both party and assault squads use the Nazi salute.

The defence’s cross examination began with questions from Nikos Kontovazenitis, legal counsel to defendant Anastasios-Marios Anadiotis. Responding to his questions, the witness said the distance between the Koralli café and Kefallinias street was about a block and that it’s half that distance from the intersection to the murder scene and that he didn’t think the murder scene was visible from Korali.

To questions from defence lawyer Vasilis Oplantzakis, the witness said that he was friends with Nikolaos Mandas and acquaintances with Dimitris Melachrinopoulos and Pavlos Seirlis. Asked about a contradiction between his testimony and his deposition to the investigating magistrate that the Fyssas group were supporters of Olympiakos football club while he was an AEK supporter, he replied that he had responded to the question he’d been asked, namely that the ones following football were Olympiakos supporters, meaning mainly Fyssas, because he didn’t follow the sport as much. Asked if Fyssas’ song “Siga min klapso” (I won’t be shedding tears) was antifascist, Xypolitos said it was as it was about the violation of personal freedoms.

Replying to defence lawyer Dimitra Velentza’s questions, the witness said that “Ektos Elenchou (Out of control) referred to the deaths of Alexis Grigoropoulos and Carlo Giuliani, both at the hands of the police. Xypolitos said he knew that Fyssas had joined protest marches but had never been involved in any scuffles, as far as he knew.

Defence lawyer Christoforos Tsagkas resumed an earlier line of questioning about Facebook posts on the witness’ profile page, prompting civil action lawyer Chrysa Papadopoulou to object as “Mandas told this court yesterday that his profile is closed and if not, it could be a fake account”. Stathis Karydomatis, a defence lawyer, interjected with the question, “what are you, the witness’ lawyer?” Takis Michalolias, also from the defence, pointed to his mobile phone screen, saying “here, his Facebook [profile] is open”. After this, a ten-minute recess was called for the court to return to order.

After the recess, Tsagkas showed the witness the picture from Facebook and he recognised the previous witness’ picture, saying “it’s Mandas’ Facebook profile because I can read his name and his alias.”

Examined by the Giorgos Roumpekas for the defence, the witness said that at the time he’d spotted the convoy of cars and motorbikes he had also seen the police Dias motorcycle squad, so he had momentarily felt safe. He said Fyssas was sober that night and was generally quite protective of others.

In questioning by defence lawyer Vangelis Bairaktaris, the witness said he had a high school diploma and that had gleaned his knowledge of political ideologies and parties from reading outside school. He also testified that he had not sued the police officers who had strip-searched him.

Defence lawyer Dimitris Bonis asked the witness to describe what defendants Ioannis Aggos and Leon Tsalikis wore that night. In response to defence lawyer Antonis Mammis, Xypolitos described how Fyssas group and hip hop fans dress. He also testified that the chant “Cops, pigs, murderers” did not resonate with him and he never used it. He also said he hadn’t heard anyone shout “there he is” or “Fyssas” that night, but that he wouldn’t have been able to as he wasn’t within hearing range of the Golden Dawn members. He was also shown some photographs, which he identified as being from the All-Workers Militant Front (PAME) protest.

Under examination by defence lawyer Vasiliki Pantazi, the witness said Golden Dawn’s office in Piraeus was on the top floor of an apartment building. He also testified that if he went to a protest march, he would not join a bloc whose chants and slogans he didn’t agree with.

The witness answered questions from defence lawyer Dimitris Papadellis about his participation in protest rallies or marches. He said that unions and their president or union officials decided who joined the march and who guarded it. He testified that he had never been assigned to guard a protest and did not know who handed out clubs and plans; from his own experience, he said he had been on a protest march where clashes had erupted in the presence of MPs.

Defence lawyer Dimitra Velentza asked the witness to describe what Fyssas wore: a black Rap Monsters t-shirt with a face and red lettering.

Questioned by defence lawyer Giorgos Michalolias, the witness gave the court his name and Facebook alias, and described one of his posts as a satire about Meligalas; he said his information about Golden Dawn came from the internet and that he kept informed about this trial via the Jail Golden Dawn website.

Asked by defence lawyer Nikos Roussopoulos if he was familiar with the slogan “Crush the fascists”, the witness said he did know the chant “you’re the rotters of the entire world, ban the fascists from every neighbourhood”. [Both rhyme in Greek.] To the lawyer’s question if he had seen party leaders salute in the Stalin style, the witness didn’t answer but merely smiled. The question caused a furore in the courtroom as several civil action lawyers interjected to ask what a Stalinist salute was and also accused the defence of trying to divert the trial.

Defence lawyer Alexandros Alexiadis asked the witness if he thought the declaration “get the lackeys out of the port” was related to the launch of a union branch at the shipyards or some assault. The witness said an attack had been made three days after this statement, thus the phrase was obviously linked to an assault. He also described [Attica metalworkers’ union president Sotiris] Poulikogiannis, with whom he is acquainted, as a kind person. The presiding judge did not allow further questions about the photograph submitted by the attorney. With regards to Mandas’ union activity, the witness said that he would respect the witness’s decision not to respond and would thus not respond either, and that he himself was a member of the Panhellenic Music Association.

The trial was adjourned until Thursday, 30 June 2016, at Athens Appeals Court.