85th Hearing, Court of Appeals, September 13th, 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. There were journalists and a small number of spectators present.
2. Presence and representation of the defendants
There were no defendants present at the start of the hearing. Twenty-two (22) defendants were represented by their counsels, and the rest were recorded as absent.
3. Continuation of the testimony of witness Embarak Abouzide, under article 358 CCP
The civil action counsels for the Fyssas family (El. Tobatzoglou, V. Kougiatsou, and And. Tzellis) stated that when fifteen people are hitting one person then there is the possibility of deadly intent on the part of the attackers. Also, that his residence or work permit status does not legitimize such acts. It was mentioned that there are significant similarities between the attack against Fyssas and the attack against the Egyptian fishermen: the assailants’ numerical advantage, and their arming with bats and crowbars. When someone is waking up his faculties and reflexes are limited, and none of the perpetrators made any attempt to show remorse, even at the 11th hour. Quite the contrary: they thought he was dead. The fact that only the victims’ cars were damaged is not an accident. The only thing that is accidental in this case is that Embarak lived, while Pavlos [:Fyssas] unfortunately died.
Civil action counsel M. Malagaris (for PAME) laconically commented that “a number of doubts have been raised about what really happened on the night in question. The possibility that the attack might have been ordered by the slavers should be investigated. Also, his employer didn’t pay him his wages, as the witness said, so he might have wanted to solve the problem with his own means. He has never offered his criminal record or if he’s involved in drug trafficking, a possibility that must be investigated. Since the man survived, serious doubts are raised about whether they wanted to kill him. He didn’t go back to his country, so he’s not really afraid. All this must be taken into account.”
Civil action counsels (for PAME) Ch. Stratis, Agg. Vrettos, and Th. Theodoropoulos added that this was an organized attack by a Golden Dawn assault squad and that the procurement of a residence permit cannot be weighed against a murder attempt. Without a doubt, this is a criminal organization that operated on a far from local scale. The defense has mounted a vain attempt to find the perpetrator among the employers, something which is unsupported by the evidence. They went on to state that the defense’s argument which maintains that the witness should have left the country because he could find no work, or the reasons why he had children, are referring directly to the core tenets of the organization’s [:Golden Dawn’s] ideology. The rhetoric referring to “monkeys”, “subhumans”, and “we’re leaving you in the middle of the Mediterranean” is used by and supports fully the actions of Golden Dawn. Civil action counsel Vrettos concluded that “in other European countries they burn immigrants, what is the difference from what happened here, what is the difference with fascism?”
Defense counsel Papadelis, speaking for the defense counsels, stated forcefully that the defense counsels should not be reviled in the press just because “they’re doing their duty”. Regarding the comments, he stated that neither the perpetrator nor the motives were conclusively shown, and the victim concealed the fact that he had worked, so it’s possible that someone exploited him.
Defense counsel Glykas (for Agriogiannis) mentioned that the evidence does not support deadly intent, merely bodily injury. There is no medical document that proves that the surgeries were indeed conducted or that the victim has been irreversibly impaired. The victim has contradicted himself in his statements and is unreliable.
Defense counsel Alpanidis (for M. Evgenikos and An. Pantazis) stated that the immigration issue is a grave problem for Greece, and went on to say that the majority of the people don’t possess a Greek conscience. He added that the perpetrators had no intention of killing the victim, only to scare him, and that’s why they didn’t proceed to harm the rest of the residents that were sleeping below. He also stated that if the victim had so much metal in his teeth, the metal detector at the entrance to the court would have surely picked them up.
Defense counsel Poulia (for Th. Marias) doubted the entirety of the victim’s testimony, especially the parts that had to do with the duration of the incident and the exact time it took place. She also stated that the witness’s [:the victim’s] testimonies diverge and that “a person under attack can’t possibly have time to see around him and count the attackers”. Finally, she said that someone who says he was dying can’t have been hospitalized only once, and that the witness is pursuing the matter to be able to bring his family here from Egypt.
Defense counsel Zografos (for Gregos, Michos, and Chatzidakis) commented that the victim couldn’t have fathered children if he had been hit as badly as he maintains, and repeated the by now frequent argument of the defense that the witness is pursuing the matter to be able to get a residence permit for himself and his family.
Defense counsel Oplantzakis stated that the indictment changed during the course of the criminal proceedings without any change in the basic facts of the case, and Golden Dawn was never proved to have been implicated.
Defense counsel D. Velentza similarly wondered why the victim had children since he had no employment, and that the alleged hits that he says he received were never proven.
Defense counsel G. Michalolias (for Koukoutsis) repeated that Golden Dawn has been arbitrarily connected to the attack on trial, given that he couldn’t give examples of other attacks, and the ones that he did mention were never proven to be connected to Golden Dawn. The defense counsel also added that the victim used the incident to renew his residence permit which was due to expire in May of 2014. Defense counsel Roussopoulos (for I. Lagos) stated that “the witness lectured us about the Greeks in Egypt being treated fairly, whereas it is well known that Christians are slaughtered and churches are being defiled.”
Defense counsel Stavrianakis (for Pappas) implied that the victim is involved in illicit activities and that he was attacked as an act of revenge, saying “how to explain that he was the only one that was hit?”
After the conclusion of statements, An. Pantazis and M. Evgenikos approached the bench and deposited written statements to the effect that they are retroactively terminating their representation by defense counsel Alpanidis. The presiding judge mentioned that said termination was valid from that day, the day they deposited the statements to the court. Evgenikos orally appointed Karydomatis as his counsel, and Pantazis similarly retained only Karydomatis as his counsel.
4. Witness testimony of Abou Hamed Saad, friend of Abouzide Embarak
Mr. Abou Hamed asked not to be photographed, and that he requested the services of an interpreter, because his command of the Greek language was not sufficient. He stated that he came to Greece in 1997. In the beginning he lived in Keratsini for 5-6 years, and then moved to Perama until 2012, when they left after the incident took place. His older brother, Ahmed, and his younger one, Mohammed, are also living in Greece. Initially the witness worked in Chalkida in a small fishing vessel. He worked the night shift and in 1997 his wages were about 200.000 drachmas. A year and a half later he started working construction jobs in Keratsini for 5-6 months, employed by one of his countrymen. Then he started working in the Keratsini fish market where his brother (Ahmed) got a street seller permit and they opened the shop, in 2009 or 2010. The shop is still in operation, registered to Ahmed. All three brothers work in the shop, and if there’s too much work they bring in more hands. The fishmonger’s is in Ipirou street, near the fish auction. He was acquainted with Embarak Abouzide back in Egypt, since they lived close to one another. Embarak was working as a fisherman and his family farmed dates. He came to Greece 5-6 months before the incident, to support his family, since his father had died. In Greece he couldn’t find a steady job, but worked odd jobs, about 10-15 days a month. When he first came to Greece he worked in a fishing vessel for a month, but they didn’t pay him everything they owed him and he quit. He hadn’t gotten in a fight with his former employer.
Concerning the night in question, the witness stated that they had gone to bed around 10 at night, in their house on Sofouli Street. Ahmed and the witness slept in one room and Mohammed and his children, aged 15 and 17, slept in another. During the last few days, Embarak was sleeping on the roof, due to the heat. The roof isn’t very high, and there are steps on the side leading up to it, stopping about three feet from the top. The witness stated that on the night in question he was woken up by loud noises, banging on the door and window. He heard people at the window swearing at his brother, saying “Come out you motherfucker and I’ll show you what Golden Dawn is about”, and others were breaking the glass on the door and shouting “Open up, Ahmed!” They were banging the windows with wooden and steel clubs, and they were trying to break them open. His brother swore at them to drive them away and he shouted to Saad to bring him a wooden club to scare them away and try to hold the other window. They started hitting the other window with wooden and steel clubs. They [:the Egyptians] had heard about 5-6 months back that there’s this party called Golden Dawn, and that young men go out in groups and harm immigrants. It was then that the witness thought they had come to harm them.
Responding to the question by the presiding judge “How did they know your brother’s name?”, the witness said “everyone in Piraeus and Keratsini knows him, because we drive around a lot for our business, they know me too. My brother’s name is written on the side of his car.”
He went on to say that they didn’t hit the other room because it was higher up, however Mohammed threw down whatever he had, bottles, his pillow, whatever he could get hold of. The assailants broke one of the window and broke the door’s glass pane, tore it down with a fire extinguisher they had brought with them and emptied it inside the house through the broken glass pane. The witness stated that, as he saw at the end, they were about ten of them. When they hit the second window, they got out on the street and started smashing to the cars. They saw then that a neighbor (Kostas) and his wife had woken up, and another neighbor further away. They damaged only the Egyptians’ cars. One of them had Ahmed’s information on the side and the other was obviously a fisherman’s car. They also trashed a trike. They didn’t harm any of the other cars that were parked on the street.
The witness said that he can’t remember faces and likenesses, that they were young people 20-25 years old, of medium build, and that he didn’t see anyone that was plump. The assailants were all wearing black, except for one of them who was wearing a white shirt. He didn’t see a woman among them. He saw part of the face of the man who was pulling at the window but not enough to make a definitive identification.
After the attack the assailants went to the next street where they had parked their motorbikes. Half of them were carrying wooden and steel clubs. After they had trashed the cars, the witness heard Abouzide shout “Guys, help! Ahmed, help!” They quickly went up on the roof and saw him lying down, screaming with pain, with his head and face running with blood, and his clothes torn to shreds. He couldn’t speak, his jaw had turned to the side. Thick blood was running down his head and on his face. They carried him down and laid him down in front of the house to let him rest. He fainted and then regained consciousness. The ambulance came and the witness escorted him to the hospital. After a few hours in the hospital they told them he would have to be transferred to Evaggelismos Hospital. They put in metal implants because his teeth and gums had been destroyed. He stayed in the hospital for about 15 days and afterwards he was cared for by the witness and his brother because he was convalescent, and he needed a straw to eat.
Responding to questions by the presiding judge the witness answered that he never had any differences with anyone and that their shop had a legal permit. He also said that he and his brothers were well-known in the area because of their shop. He stated that he didn’t hear any order being given on the night in question. On the day after the attack they left the house because they were afraid.
5. Adjournment – Requests from the civil action counsels
At this point the court was adjourned until Monday, September 19th, 2016, when the testimony and examination of witness Abou Hamed Saad will continue.
The presiding judge said that the witness K. Tatsiopoulos should have presented himself to the court, given that he had been served a subpoena. The state prosecutor motioned for the witness to be brought in before the court, because his testimony was crucial to the proceedings, and to impose a fine for failing to appear in court. Civil action counsel K. Papadakis (for the Egyptian fishermen) asked for the witness to be spared the fine, given that when the trial commenced with a list of over 140 witnesses it seemed unnecessary for him to come to court, and also he wasn’t the only one that wasn’t present at the start. He asked to serve again the subpoena. The court decided to bring in the witness and to impose a fine of 150 euros.
Concerning the motion to call all defendants to be personally present in the court, so that they can be identified by the witnesses, the court decided to overrule it given that “the defendants’ likenesses are well-known due to their regular exposure in the media.