68th Hearing, Court of Appeals, June 27th, 2016
1. Access to the Court
The court convened for the first time in the Court of Appeals after the transfer of the trial’s location from the women’s wing of Korydallos Prison to the ceremony hall in the Athens Court of Appeals. The hearing was plagued by dozens of problems, and also included a multiple incidents and altercations. There was confusion at 09:00, the time that spectators are entering the courtroom. The entrances were flooded by counsels, journalists, spectators, defendants, and relatives and friends of the victims or the defendants. The Court of Appeals courtroom is divided by a bar, but there was no provision to sequester the two sides in the audience, and as a result there was tension in the corridor when the path of Giorgos Roupakias, the accused for the murder of Pavlos Fyssas, crossed that of the victim’s mother. Tatiana Bolari, a photographer, tried to photograph them together, and Roupakias raised his arm to take down her camera, and verbally attacked her. There was a series of incidents between Fyssas’ uncle and defense counsel Efst. Karydomatis (for Pantazis), who exchanged insults and gestures. Magda Fyssas [:Pavlos Fyssas’ mother] reported that she was threatened by members of the audience and insults were exchanged. For their part, journalists protested the absence of a wifi network, there were not enough power outlets, and the microphones didn’t work, and the police would not let them address the presiding judge for the various matters concerning the publicity of the trial. The journalists that were present decided to issue a press release via their union, ESΙEA [:Journalists’ Union of Athens Daily Newspapers].The complaints persisted. The counsels complained about the courtroom’s insufficient ventilation. A part of the audience complained because they weren’t allowed entrance to the courtroom under the pretense that there were no seats left, while the gallery and a part of the seats were still vacant. The matter was resolved with an intervention by the presiding judge, after insistent requests by Thanasis Kabagiannis. Defense counsels Giorgos Roubekas and Takis Michalolias in turn reported an incident of invective against Roupakias and protested anti-Golden Dawn pamphlets handed out by members of an antifascist demonstration that was in progress outside the Court of Appeals.
2. Presence and representation of the defendants
The hearing commenced at least an hour later than expected. Present at the start of the hearing were 3 defendants, while absent was witness N. Mantas due to the delay and confusion that was caused during the audience’s entrance to the court. After a short delay, all 18 defendants in the Fyssas case appeared in court, while the rest were represented by their counsels. The defense counsels for the 18 defendants motioned to revoke the decision that requires the defendants’ personal appearance in court. They claimed, without submitting the necessary documents (employer certificates or statements), that their clients’ job obligations prevent them from appearing in court. The state prosecutor reserved her decision until a later hearing, but she did comment on the need to have the defendants in the courtroom so that the witnesses can identify the perpetrators.
3. Continuation of witness testimony of Nikolaos Mantas – Examination by the defense counsels
First to take the floor was Giorgos Michalolias, who attempted to submit documents that he claimed contained the witness’s posts on social media. The witness declined to answer any question that had to do with his Facebook posts since as he said his account is private and the content submitted by the defense counsel is either fake or the product of interception of his personal data. When pressured by the defense counsel he said that the profile was not his own.
Defense counsel Oplantzakis (for Kazantzoglou and Roupakias) attempted to submit to court lyrics from the song “Evaggelia” [:Gospels] by the band E13, but the witness stated that he is not a bandmember, that he is not familiar with the song, and that he doesn’t know Fyssas’ relationship with the church and the priests.
Civil action counsel Kabagiannis objected, saying that Fyssas’ beliefs are not on trial.
Responding to a question by defense counsel Tsagas about a photo of the witness on Facebook, the witness said that “For a half an hour now we have been talking about Facebook. There’s a murder and a confession. I will not speak about the Facebook posts since I don’t know whether they fabricated them”.
4. Witness testimony of Michail Ksypolitos
These are the main points of the testimony: I am unemployed for the past year and a half, and I have been making music for the past ten years. I knew Fyssas for three years before the incident took place. I mainly ran into him in concerts. He was my friend. We were in Souvenir Café with Mantas, Melachrinopoulos, Christos, Nikos, Seirlis, a girl, and Ilias. Mantas is my closest friend. We saw the first half of the match in that café and then Seirlis talked with Fyssas, who was in Koralli Café and because the place we were in was too crowded, we left and met with them there. We didn’t care if we lost some of the match, so we left Souvenir for Koralli a little before the start of the second half of the match began. The distance between the two cafés is about 1,5 km. We went in two cars, I drove the first one and Seirlis the other one. When we got there the second half had just begun. There were about 7 of us. There were 2-3 chairs empty, so we got a few stools and sat down. To our left sat a group of three, but as we went in we saw a fourth one going out, and I suppose he was with them because he had a meander tattooed on his arm. He had short hair, and had a black shirt on with the sleeves turned up to show the tattoo. Their mode of dress made us think that they had come together because the three in Koralli were wearing army wear, black and white camo pants, and they also had their hair cut short. We thought they were Golden Dawners. I realized that they were speaking a lot on their cellphones and were sending lots of messages. They were very active. I couldn’t hear what they were saying. One of them went up to go to the bathroom, and nudged us by mistake, but nothing happened. We didn’t provoke, and they didn’t either. Nothing of the sort. We stared at them because of their clothes, but without any sort of intent. We just exchanged glances. I didn’t feel fear until I left the café. That day I had participated in the antifascist demo that started in the Perama Shipping Yards and ended in the Golden Dawn local chapter, to protest the attack against the PAME members. I was with Mantas. When the soccer match finished we left the café. Me and one other were the first to come out of the café, because I didn’t have to pay since I hadn’t gotten anything. The rest of the group followed a few minutes later. To my left I saw about ten young men, aged 25-35. They were standing near the spot where I had parked my car. They didn’t look as if they were there by chance. Most of them were wearing hard motorcycle gloves. I saw someone holding a wooden beam. I didn’t notice any parked motorbikes. I saw them hiding wooden clubs behind the parked cars. While we were discussing what to do, a guy came out of the café and told us to leave from the other side, through a narrow side street. He was talking mainly to Fyssas. He told them he was a police officer. Fyssas said that we have no intention of getting into a fight, we just want to get our cars.
We left and walked towards Tsaldari. We were waiting to cross the street when a car came by followed by 6-8 motorbikes. The car stopped and the driver asked Fyssas for directions, the motorbikes remained behind the car, they didn’t bypass it, which would be the normal thing to do. A little while later I saw the motorbikes in formation. A DIAS squad arrived on the scene. When I looked back there were many more that us and were shouting “Come on your pussies, we’ll slaughter you”, and were swearing at us. At first they headed to us walking quickly and then they broke into a run. We starting running too, me, Nikos, and Seirlis hid in a pilotis, and Mantas was hiding in the next apartment building. Nikos called the police 3-4 times. We were hiding for 5 minutes. While we were hiding we heard insults from two of the motorbikes “Where are you, you pussies”, “come out and we’ll fuck you up”. We only came out when we saw the flashing light of the patrol car. When the patrol car came they cuffed us and put us in the patrol car. The patrol car broke down and we had to wait for another to come and take us to the police station. Then we heard on the police radio that a man had been stabbed in the heart, but we didn’t know who it was. At the station they strip-searched us very thoroughly, then put us in a room, there was already someone there who told us to take a seat, he asked us what happened and whether we were politically active. I thought he was a policeman. He also told us that they caught the murderer and that he confessed. That man was Roupakias.
The witness was then questioned by the members of the court. The witness identified Aggos, Tsalikis, Michalaros, and Roupakias, from the 18 defendants in the courtroom. He also testified that during the attack in Perama, the Golden Dawners had wooden clubs outfitted with spikes. As he said, there is a common method. “We go, we strike, we leave”. They have a specific mode of dress. They attack people that are opposed to their own ideology. Motorized demonstrations are a regular occurrence. The witness testified that he’s seen a lot of them. They wear the same clothes and throw pamphlets bearing hateful slogans such as “Axe and fire to the commie dogs”, “Blood, honor, Golden Dawn”. The witness also stated that he saw a video where Golden Dawn MPs had gone to the Perama S/Y and were saying “We’ll be the bosses of the S/Y, we’ll stamp out the lackeys of PAME”. After a few days, the attack on the PAME members took place. After the attack in Perama the witness saw in the news the beatings in Meligalas, and then it was the turn of him and his friends. He went on to say that the motorized demos are organized by the party, and their purpose is to terrorize, not inform the public.
Responding to another question he stated that from what he knows the cell leader takes orders from the district commander and that Lagos is the district commander of Piraeus. He also testified that he was attacked by an assault squad of 8-10 people on the first day that he came to court as a witness. He was coming to the hearing with Mantas and three other people. They asked them where they were going and then launched a coordinated attack. They first hit the girl and then all the others, the witness suffered a fractured nasal bone and bruises, and was beaten with reinforced gloves. As he said, Golden Dawn uses the same weapons. They used the same weapons in the attacks against the PAME members, against the immigrants, and on the night of the Fyssas murder. Responding to questions by the presiding judge he said that he can’t tell whether he would have been spared if he hadn’t run away, and that others were beaten too, apart from Fyssas. He also knows that Roupakias circled around the block in the car and then went directly for Fyssas, and that Fyssas was a well-known antifascist, that he printed posters, gathered blankets to give to the homeless etc. and that it wouldn’t surprise him if he had been the target of the fascists, even though there was no precedent between Fyssas and members of Golden Dawn. On the night of the murder the Golden Dawn squads waited to join and then attacked as if it had been prearranged.
5. Examination by the civil action counsels
First to take the floor were the civil action counsels for the Fyssas family. Responding to questions by A. Tzellis the witness stated that the negotiator told them that the “others” didn’t want any trouble and told them to leave another way, which proved to be a dark alley, and that the witness was left with the impression that he knew them from the neighborhood. Then Fyssas told him, “I’m from here, too, and we don’t any trouble either.” The witness also testified that whoever does not agree with the Golden Dawn ideology is a possible target and that until Fyssas and his friends got to Kefallinias St. they saw no policemen.
Responding to questions by civil action counsel Kougiatsou he stated that he was left with the impression that Golden Dawners had been on standby due to the antifascist demo that had taken place in the area on that day, and that they managed to assemble a whole battalion in no time, something that shows the automated processes and operational speed of Golden Dawn.
Responding to civil action counsel Christodoulou the witness testified that he knew from various discussions he had with people he knew that had been there, the exact way they had attacked the PAME members and that he was overcome with fear the instant he came out of Koralli.
Papadopoulou showed the witness photographs in which he identified himself, wounded, outside the Nikaia General Hospital on the first day of the trial. At this point, and while the counsel attempted to show the witness a few photographs so that he could identify perpetrators among members of Golden Dawn, the defense objected to the procedure, the presiding judge overruled and allowed the showing of photographs so that the witness could identify only those that had been involved in the events of September 17th.
Responding to a question by civil action counsel Tobatzoglou the witness referred to the slogans and videos by Golden Dawn and stated that the goal of Golden Dawn was to throw the lackeys of PAME to the wolves, as he saw them say in a video, and that instead they had attacked PAME with bats and clubs, and that its goal was to have its own trade union in the Perama Shipping Yards.
Responding to a question by civil action counsel Zotos, who was not allowed to ask the witness who he believes was the one to point them out on that night, he said that surely that night Michalaros and the other three had seen them in Koralli Café.
Responding to questions by civil action counsel Kabagiannis he said that the Golden Dawn attacks aimed to send a message and that a characteristic of the organization that was common in the attacks it carried out as well, was the quick and organized movements, that suddenly many people attack few people, and they depart right away, their only aim being violence.
At that point and while civil action counsel T. Sapountzakis was trying to examine the witness, and the presiding judge rejected his questions, the counsel said that the defense gets ample time to submit their questions, while the civil action counsels are constantly interrupted. Both sides kept protesting. After many questions by the civil action counsels for PAME the witness answered that they called the police because they were the victims of an attack, but they were treated differently by the police officers, and that part of their testimony at the police station was given in front of Roupakias.
The presiding judge adjourned for Friday, June 28th, at the Women’s Wing of Korydallos Prison.