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DAY 67: TESTIMONY OF WITNESS N. MANTAS

67th Hearing, Women’s Wing, Korydallos Prison, June 24th, 2016

1. 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. Relatively few spectators turned up, but there were many members of the press present, as well as friends and relatives of the Fyssas family.

2. Presence and representation of the defendants

At the last hearing the court had ordered the defendants to personally appear in court. Present at the start of the proceedings were seventeen (17) defendants – all of them involved in the Fyssas case, except G. Dimou, whose counsel submitted a doctor’s certificate claiming his client was ill. Twenty-five (15) defendants were recorded as absent, while the rest were represented by their counsels.

3. Proceedings – Motions by the defense counsels

The microphones weren’t working at the start of the hearing. After a short recess the problem was fixed, but reappeared towards the end of the hearing, resulting in frequent protests that the witness was not being heard.

Defense counsel Meitanis, appointed by the court to Aggos, asked to be relieved of his duties due to an intense workload, and because he has been appointed as a defense counsel in another trial that has been going on in the same courtroom for the past two years. The presiding judge noted that there was already a counsel appointed for the same defendant, Ms. Markou, who intervened to request that a second counsel be appointed because the case file is too large, and because she will be away for some time in the near future. The court accepted the request by Mr. Meitanis.

Defense counsel Bonis (for Tsalikis) requested that his client be excused from personally appearing in court because he’s living and working in Skiathos. The same request was made by defendant Santorinaios, who cited job obligations. Defendant Michalaros stated that he is a worker in the Perama Shipping Yards [:S/Y] and asked to be allowed to appear in court for only some of the hearings. More defense counsels submitted the same request (for their clients to appear intermittently in court), specifically Patelis, because he is working as a house painter, and Korkovilis and Tsakanikas, because they work in a street fruit market.

4. Testimony of witness Nikolaos Mantas, friend of P. Fyssas

Mantas stated that he works as a delivery man, that he is a resident of Egaleo, and that he knew P. Fyssas from music circles, since 2008-2009. Before the night of the murder he hadn’t seen P. Fyssas for 5-6 months. The presiding judge asked him to describe the events of the night in question, and he started by saying that “At around 21:00 I was in café in Salaminos St. in Keratsini, I was with Michalis Ksypolitos, Melachrinopoulos, Ilias, Nikos, two girls, and Seirlis. We met up with Michalis and Pavlos Seirlis and the rest came later. Seirlis spoke to Pavlos on the phone, I don’t know who called whom, and he told us that he was in a café nearby, and that we should meet him there, and later maybe go someplace else. This café was relatively nearby, at the intersection of Kefallinias and Tsaldari streets. We all drove there in two cars. Ksypolitos and Seirlis were driving the cars. I had never before visited this café, I don’t know about the others. We parked the cars in P. Mela St. and went inside the café. I saw one of the defendants leaving as we were going in. I recognized him because I had seen him a while back in a youtube video about the S/Y, because he has a very distinctive tattoo. He wasn’t an MP, he was a simple worker and was interviewed in the video”. The witness described this person as a little taller than himself, with short-cropped hair, brawny, he wore a black wifebeater t-shirt, and had a meander tattooed on his right arm. The witness stated that they didn’t talk, and he didn’t notice whether the man noticed him.

They went into the café, there were 7-8 of them and sat at Pavlos’ table, in which sat three people. The second half had already started, the café was crowded, but not packed. The witness then testified that he saw three persons -one of whom is a defendant in this trial- who seemed fidgety, stared at the witness’s group, and were talking a lot on their mobile phones and sending text messages. One of them was wearing a black t-shirt, camo pants, and army boots, had slightly greying short hair, and a small goattee. The others wore dark clothes but the witness couldn’t remember exactly what. The witness testified that they didn’t talk with these three persons, and he doesn’t know whether the others said something to them before the witness got there. He added that the man who was wearing camo pants tripped over Seirlis’ feet. A little before the end of the match, they started leaving one by one, every few minutes. A little after the end of the match the witness and his friends got up to leave, too. At that point the witness looked towards the door, where his friend Nikos had gone to talk on the phone, and saw more people staring at them. Then they got out of the café and saw that a group of people wearing dark clothes had gathered where they had parked their cars. At first they weren’t that many, about 7-10 people, and held various things, like wooden beams, crowbars, bats, one of them had hard motorcycles gloves. They stayed there for about ten minutes talking about what they should do, but the opposing group was getting more numerous, 5-6 more people came and then still more. All of them were muscular, tall, and wore dark clothes. He saw among them the one with the hat that was by the door when Nikos was speaking on the phone. They decided to leave, Christos left in a taxi because he wasn’t feeling well. The opposing group went towards Tsaldari Street and stopped in the corner of Tsaldari and Kefallinias Streets. Their numbers kept swelling, now they were twice the size of the Fyssas group. The witness now stated that he neglected to say something before, that there was “this one guy that told us he was a policeman and was talking with us and then with them and said that the kids should go that way and that you go this way so nothing happens”. We started towards Tsaldari and I noticed that the bulk of the group was coming towards us, but kept their distance. In Tsaldari Street I saw two DIAS motorbikes that turned into Kefallinias Street. They stopped in the middle of the street and got off their bikes. At the other side I saw something that resembled a convoy of motorbikes and two cars. There were about 7-8 motorbikes, and stopped where the DIAS policemen had stopped. I knew right away that the people on the motorbikes weren’t policemen, they had cropped hair, they were huge and muscular. They got off their bikes and joined the others. There were two cars but I didn’t see where they parked. One of the two cars was silver-colored, the other I don’t remember, neither the color or its passengers.

Responding to a question by the presiding judge, the witness stated that he got the impression that a group was being formed with a goal in mind, for an assault, and that’s exactly what happened. A mass of people brandishing wooden beams and clubs is a threatening sight. They joined the others and shouted. When the witness’s group tried to cross the street, the mob followed them shouting “come here you pussies, we’ll slaughter you, we’ll fuck you up, you’re dead”, and other similar things. The witness got scared and started running, the mob had swelled to 35-40 people. He testified that everything happened very fast, they had no time to plan anything, the witness ran with Nikos, Ksypolitos, and Seirlis, turned at the first street they found, went up two streets and got into a pilotis. He didn’t know who had been left behind, everything happened too fast. Someone called the police and two DIAS motorbikes arrived (in addition to the other two already at the scene). It was there that they heard on the radio that a man had been stabbed and the patrol cars arrived.

Responding to questions by the presiding judge the witness stated that the DIAS police officers did not intervene or take an action at the spot that the mob had joined the people that had arrived in the convoy. He does not remember the faces of other people, apart from those he has already described, as well as a short man and a chubby man that were coming towards them in Tsaldari Street. When the patrol car arrived, the witness described, “they handcuffed us, they took us to the Keratsini police station, at first they stripped us completely, while knowing that we had called the police, and they put us in a room that was facing Labraki Avenue. In the room was someone that we thought was a policeman, some people asked him for permission to sit down. He was calm, he was smoking, and was looking at his cellphone. It was then that we learned that Pavlos was the man that had been stabbed. This guy was asking us ‘what happened’, we told him that a bunch of Golden Dawners attacked us and he was asking us ‘why, are you politically active?’ then some policemen came into the room and were asking us about what happened, and we said that it was some people wearing army boots. Then the guy started joking ‘I wear army boots too, am I a suspect?’ He had his cellphone in his hand. We later learned that that man was Roupakias. After that we spoke with the others on the phone and heard that Pavlos had died. When I looked up the man was gone”. The witness stated that it was the first time he had seen that man on that night.

The presiding judge asked the defendants to stand up, and she told the witness to get a good look at them and state whether he recognized anyone from that night. The defendants stood up and the defense counsels objected to the mode of conducting the identification process. The presiding judge proceeded and asked the witness whether he recognized anyone, and ordered the defendants to stand apart so so as to be more visible, and told some of them to change positions. Mantas testified that Michalaros was the man who was coming out of the café as they were going in, i.e. the man with the tattoo he had seen earlier in the video about the S/Y. The presiding judge ordered Michalaros to come near the witness, and he did, and N. Mantas testified that he is certain he was the one. Mantas points at a second person, saying “the gentleman in the suit [:Aggos] was in the café, he was one of the three sitting to their left, he had shorter hair then, he was the one that tripped on Seirlis and they both apologized to the other”. Aggos approached the witness, and the latter said that “Yes, I’m sure of it, he is the one that was making all the phonecalls, he was the one wearing camo pants and army boots”. The witness confirmed that he doesn’t recognize anyone else from the defendants. He added that he identifies Roupakias as the person that he first saw in the Keratsini Police Station.

After the identification the witness, responding to relevant questions, testified that he had musical differences with members of Golden Dawn, but never personal differences. He also testified that on the day of the murder he had participated in an antifascist demonstration with Ksypolitos, that protested the attack on the PAME members. He had been informed about this particular attack from the internet, the TV, and the unions.

Responding to questions by the state prosecutor concerning his earlier testimonies, the witness stated that he doesn’t know if there was an altercation before he arrived in Koralli, he only saw increased cellphone activity and strange looks. He also said that he didn’t take a good look at the faces of the group that was gathered around their cars outside Koralli, but he remembers that they were carrying the objects that he described earlier. He added that “the first time we didn’t sleep at all, we had lost our friend. In my earlier testimonies I said that they were holding things that looked like wooden sticks, wooden bats”. He also said that this group was not in ranks, it was like a mob, and he didn’t hear anyone give them orders. Responding to a question by a member of the court, the witness stated that Roupakias wasn’t wounded.

Responding to a question by civil action counsel Kougiatsou (for the Fyssas family), the witness stated that the DIAS police officers that were the first on the scene were talking with the Golden Dawners. Concerning the activity of Golden Dawn, he stated that they attack immigrants, anarchists, communists, and they organize food handouts only for Greeks. They also organize motorized demonstrations, as a show of strength. He testified that P. Fyssas might have been politically active because of his music, he was a known figure, he was opposed to fascism, organized actions for the homeless and concerts to contribute to medical expenses.

Responding to a question by civil action counsel Christodoulou (for the Fyssas family) he testified that he has also been the target of an attack, at the first hearing of this trial, on April 20th, 2015. He had this to say about the attack on his person: “It was in the nearby square, we were coming with Ksypolitos, my brother, my father, and another friend”. We were surrounded by a group of 10-15 people that detached themselves from a Golden Dawn demonstration, they asked us where we were going, I said to court, we are witnesses, for which trial, the Golden Dawn trial, I said. There were many of them and I got scared. When I said that they started beating us, me, Michalis, and my father. Punches and kicks to the face. In the evening I went to the Nikaia General Hospital and had x-rays. I had some bruises and cuts, nothing serious. I have the medical certificates”.

Responding to a question by civil action counsel Papadopoulou (for the Fyssas family) the witness stated that he knew right away the political beliefs of the three persons in Koralli, as soon as he got in, and he thinks it’s possible that they did, too, about the political beliefs of Fyssas and his friends, from the clothes they wore and their hair. The mob outside Koralli was also uniformly dressed. Mantas testified that he expresses his opposition to Golden Dawn in his music and on social media networks. After the attack he read on the internet that Patelis, the Nikaia cell leader, sent a text message to everyone to gather in the local chapter. He had watched him in older videos on the internet saying “we slaughter everything, knife everyone”, which means that if an order is given nothing will be left standing, we aren’t autonomous, we’re Golden Dawn. The witness was asked whether he knows what was the Golden Dawn’s position right after the murder, and he said that they denied any connection to the attack and the murderer, but that Michaloliakos later assumed the political responsibility.

Responding to a question by civil action counsel Tobatzoglou, the witness stated that the presence of the DIAS police officer didn’t make him feel any safer, watching them talking with the opposing group. He also said that in the Keratsini police station they asked them to remove their clothes, before they even asked for ID.

Responding to a question by civil action counsel Tzellis (for the Fyssas family) the witness said he was terrified when he saw 40 muscular men running towards him. He also testified that he saw no intervention by the police for the duration of the attack.

Civil action counsel T. Zotos (for the Egyptian fishermen) showed the witness a photograph contained in the documents to be read later in the course of the trial, it was a screen capture from a video, while the defense counsels objected “It will be shown when the documents are to be read”. Mantas said that he recognized Michalaros in the photo.

Civil action counsel Th. Kabagiannis (civil action for the Egyptian fishermen) showed another photograph to the witness and asked him about the man with the tattoo that was mentioned earlier, and defense counsel Tsagas objected. The presiding judge allowed the question after a clarification by Th. Kabagiannis: “I’m interested in the man with the tattoo, because I want to ask questions concerning the depicted assault squad”. Mantas said “Yes, that’s the tattoo”.

Responding to a question by civil action counsel Antanasiotis (for PAME) about what the witness knows about the attack on PAME and if there are common characteristics between the two attacks (PAME and Fyssas). Mantas answered that “they come as a group, they strike, and they leave as a group”. The word “Blitzkrieg” is heard loudly and clearly from the defense counsels.

Civil action counsel Zafeiriou asked about the video of Michalaros in the S/Y, and the witness asnwered that Michalaros was the one that had stated that he was proud to be a Golden Dawner and that he appeared next to Golden Dawn MPs Lagos and Panagiotaros.

During his testimony the witness protested at least five times that he is constantly the target of sarcastic remarks and threats by the defense counsels and their principals. Instead of a question civil action counsel Theodoropoulos stated that “I want to protest about the things that are being done in court by the defense, that they are crucial and that they warrant protection”. When the witness protested the presiding judge admonished both sides and asked him to concentrate on his testimony.

Defense counsel Markou (for Aggos) wonders how is it possible that someone’s mode of dress can be connected to his political beliefs, adding that “me and my husband also wear army boots and camo pants”.

Defense counsel Oplantzakis submitted questions concerning the common interests of the Fyssas group, if it was music or soccer, and the witness answered that it was both. The defense counsel showed the witness photographs from the interior of Koralli café, and asked him about the position of each party, and did the same about the incident on the street using a map of the area. The same defense counsel put in doubt the witness’s claim concerning weaponry made during his previous testimonies, at which point the presiding judge interrupted to say “Please look at the previous page”, where Mantas states during his preliminary testimony of March 19th, 2014, that he saw “gloves and clubs”. When asked “what made you run away?” the witness stated “Survival instinct, the started walking quickly towards us, swearing and threatening us all the while”. The same defense counsel made a few questions about the content of Fyssas’ songs, putting in doubt their antifascist or anti-GD qualities.

Defense counsel Velentza (for Kazantzoglou and Kalaritis) continued in this vein about the songs of Fyssas, questions the presiding judge ultimately rejected. She also asked about the discussions the witness had with his friends inside and outside Koralli.

Defense counsel Tsagas (for Michalaros) showed the witness some photographs, clarified that they are not included in the case file, and asked him whether he recognizes the persons depicted. The witness recognized a few of his friends, some of whom were present on the day in question, such as Chatziefstratiou, Fyssas, and Eleni, and said that he can’t recall their surnames. The defense counsel then asked him about Chatziefstratiou’s connection to Fyssas and about the reasons the two groups met in Koralli.

Defense counsel Gavelas (for Patelis) asked the witness how he could tell they were Golden Dawners since he wasn’t looking at them intently, and the witness answered “they were in my field of vision”. Gavelas then retorted “Isn’t it annoying and indiscreet to stare like that?”

Defense counsel Roubekas (for Roupakias) questioned the witness about his union activity, whether his vision was good enough, and about the fact that 7-8 people got up to join three others, when the opposite would be the logical course of action. He also asked the witness whether he or Fyssas consumed any alcohol on the night in question.

Defense counsel Mammis (for N. Tsorvas) asked whether Pavlos had received any threats, and the witness said that he didn’t know anything about the matter. He was also asked what is the procedure that is demanded for someone to participate in an antifascist demonstration, and if there are people in it that carry wooden poles, black and red flags, hard gloves, and helmets. The witness responded negatively for the last two items.

Following the conclusion of the examination by the defense counsels, the presiding judge adjourned for Monday, June 27th, 2016, at 09:00, at the Athens Court of Appeals.

 

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