61st Hearing, Women’s Wing, Korydallos Prison, Athens, May 25th, 2016
1. Court Access
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. At today’s hearing there were virtually no spectators in the courtroom.
2. Presence and representation of the defendants
Present at the start of the proceedings were 6 defendants. Absent was Roupakias, who is on house arrest. Twenty-seven (27) defendants were recorded as absent, and the proceedings revolved around the matter of representation for the rest of the defendants.
During the defendants’ roll call defendant Aggos, who was present, stated that he is not being represented by a counsel. The civil action counsels submitted waivers for today’s hearing and the defense counsels present stated that they are bound by the waivers of the civil action counsels, despite the fact that they’re still on strike, and so they will represent their clients in court. Defense counsel Velentza (for Kazantzoglou) stated that she has not been notified by the civil action counsels about the waivers they obtained, and that an issue arises about the order of the proceedings, but in any case she will represent her clients.
Defense counsel Kapernaros (for Kouzilos) objected about the legality of the issuing of waivers for the civil action and whether the notification of same (which did not take place) is in accordance with the letter of the law. The objection was seconded by the defense counsels for Koukoutsis, Lagos, and Liakopoulos. Defense counsel Triantafylloudis (for Thomas Marias) stated that he is on strike, since he is a member of the Thessaloniki Bar Association and he is bound by the decision of the Steering Committee. When defendant Mikelatou was called, defense counsel Roubekas stated that he is on strike and will not represent his client. Defense counsel Kapernaros once more spoke to say that he is on strike “fanatically” but he will represent his client provided that the civil action counsels obtained the waivers legally and “did not deceit the Association”. Defense counsel Kassis (for Panagiotaros) stated that he is not bound by the waiver granted by the Piraeus Bar Association, because the waiver was not obtained according to the letter of law, while defense counsel Karydomatis (for Pantazis) stated that if the waivers were obtained in an irregular manner, then he is not bound to represent.
When defendant Roupakias was called, his defense counsel, Roubekas, stated that now that he had a chance to examine the waivers, he is of the opinion that they have been obtained in a manner that is not in accordance with the letter of the law, and so will not represent hs client, since he himself did not obtain a waiver from his own Bar Association. The President of this Bar Association verbally allowed him to represent, if everyone else has obtained a waiver, but he did not “dare”, as he said, submit a written request. Defense counsel Oplantzakis stated the same, that he is not bound by the civil action’s waivers, because they are not legal. Defendant Stabelos submitted to court a decision by the Larissa Bar Association which said that his defense counsel Marina Papadimitriou was denied a waiver.
The civil action counsels stated that they will represent their clients and the state prosecutor proposed to overrule the objection concerning the dubious legality of the waivers, which was submitted by defense counsel Kapernaros, and which was supported by the majority of the defense counsels. The state prosecutor was of the opinion that the Court is not qualified to judge whether the waivers were obtained according to the letter of law, but reserved her decision in order to examine the denial of waivers by the Bar Associations of Thessaloniki and Larissa.
After the recess the state prosecutor motioned to appoint a new counsel for Aggos, and as for the counsels that are bound by the decisions of the Bar Associations of Thessaloniki and Larissa she proposed to be replaced by other, present counsels from Athens.
Civil action counsel Papadopoulou stated that there is a decision by the Thessaloniki Magistrate’s Court that if one counsel has a waiver then the rest of the counsels are bound to represent. Defense counsel Antanasiotis stated that the waiver should be announced to the opposite side with every available means. The civil action announced the waivers during the previous hearing, and the matter was even reported in the media, which shows that the defense counsels’ objection abuses the process.
Defense counsel Kassis stated that he has just today learned of the process surrounding the obtained waivers and is going to apply for a repeal of the waivers, at least as regards himself. Kapernaros stated that they weren’t given the option to object to the obtained waivers through the official channels. The same claim was made by defense counsel Velentza who also added that she isn’t obliged to watch the media to get information about the trial.
Defense counsel Triantafylloudis spoke along the same lines, stating that he communicated with the defense counsel for Stabelos, a counsel from Larissa, which informed him that she will continue the strike, since her waiver application was denied. Triantafylloudis also said that the obtaining of the waivers was not announced, as defense counsel Antanasiotis earlier said, by the civil action counsels except on Facebook and on pages which advertise the civil action counsels.
The court overruled the objections, opined that the matter of representation by a counsel should be judged separately for each defendant and proceeded to appoint new counsels. The court appointed defense counsel Velentza for defendant Aggos. The court appointed defense counsel Pantazis for defendant Petrakis. The court appointed defense counsel Oplantzakis for defendant Roupakias. The court appointed defense counsel Tsagas for defendant Stabelos.
Defense counsel Velentza stated that she cannot accept her appointment and the presiding judge pointed out to her that she is obligated to accept a decision of the court, or her denial will be pursued through the official channels.
The defense counsel for Pantazis stated that she believes that the relationship between defendant and defense counsel is a very personal one and she wouldn’t want to represent defendant Petrakis invoking reasons of conscience. Furthermore, she said that she would nominally represent him for this hearing only, so that the process will go on, and submitted a request and plea to the court to reverse its decision, at least for her. Defense counsels Tsagas, Pantazis, and Velentza also denied their appointments. The presiding judge informed them that she would forward the appointments to the state prosecutor’ office. Defense counsel Pantazis stated that the court’s decision is unjust to her, since she is unable to represent defendant Petrakis on moral grounds.
After a short recess the presiding judge appointed defense counsel Kontovazenitis for defendant Aggos, defense counsel Filoxenidis for Petrakis, and defense counsel Tsabazis for defendant Stabelos. They all denied their appointments, while defendant Petrakis asked to be represented by defense counsel Oplantzakis, which was accepted by the latter. All counsels denied the appointment for defendant Aggos invoking matters of conscience or the size of the case file.
The presiding judge called for another recess saying that since the counsels present have been exhausted, new counsels will be appointed by the list of counsels to be appointed.
After the recess defense counsel Kapernaros protested the court’s decision that his denial will be pursued through the official channels, something that led him to believe that he and the rest of the defense counsels are being persecuted. The presiding judge did not comment and proceeded to appoint two counsels for defendant Aggos, Ms. Stamatia Markou-Nikolopoulou and Ms. Panagiota Masouridou, and for defendant Stabelos Ms. Panagiota Mastrogiannopoulou and Mr. Chronis Mavroeidis.
The presiding judge adjourned for Thursday, May 26th, 2016, at 09:00.
This hearing dealt with matters of procedure pertaining to the appointments of new counsels, something that delays the process, and there were many recesses as well, so that the members of the court could discuss the aforementioned matters. The hearing was marked by a change of course by the defense counsels, who initially stated that they would represent their clients, then reversed course and denied to represent their clients or to be appointed as defense counsels for some of the defendants.