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DAY 107: CONTINUATION OF TESTIMONY OF WITNESS AND PLAINTIFF MICHAIL VAXEVANIS

107th Hearing, Criminal Appeals Court, December 1st, 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, until all audience seats in the courtroom are filled. There were journalists present, and a small number of spectators.

2. Presence and representation of the defendants

Present at the start of the hearing was defendant Ioannis Kastrinos. Most of the rest of the defendants were represented by their counsels.

3. Continuation of testimony of witness and plaintiff Michail Vaxevanis

  1. Cross-examination of the witness by the defense counsels

The defense counsel for defendant Anadiotis continued with his questions. Responding to questions from defense counsel Kontovazenitis the witness stated that he couldn’t be absolutely certain that minors had taken part in the attack. He went on to clarify that it’s not unlikely that some of the assailants were minors between 16 and 18 years old. The witness said that he couldn’t give an answer to the defense counsel’s hypothetical question, whether minors could ever participate in a criminal organization with organized activity.

Defense counsel Tsagas then took the floor. Responding to a question by the defense counsel the witness said that the attackers asked them to leave and that Poulikogiannis said that they weren’t doing anything illegal. Referring to Poulikogiannis, the witness stated that he answered that way to avoid tension. The perpetrators then attacked them without leaving open any avenue of escape or retreat. He also stated that he heard nothing else in this first exchange, beyond what he has already stated. Poulikogiannis then collapsed, for every intent and purpose looking like he was dead. Soon after Poulikogiannis fell, they stopped hitting them and left. The witness stated that when Poulikogiannis collapsed, the witness himself fell on top of him instinctively to protect him, and he took a lot of hits on his back. He went on to say that when he was shoved by Antonakopoulos, he saw that there was another assailant coming behind Antonakopoulos, and it was at that point that he took the hit on his brow. All of the above happened in the briefest time, as he was holding Poulikogiannis, who had fainted, and was dragging him away to safety. The assailants had deadly intent and their plan all along included the damaging of the vehicles as they were leaving the scene of the attack. As he said, everything happened very fast. Responding to more questions the witness said that the following day the Shipping Yards [S/Y] was full of people that weren’t just members and supporters of KKE [Communist Party of Greece] and that for the same reason he can’t say with any certainty whether the protest march that followed was attended only by KKE members. He went on to say that during the first days everyone in Perama was scared, not only shipworkers. Responding to questions about the union and the work conditions, he said that the union’s greatest victory was the 7-hour workday and paid overtime, which was regulated, recognized and ratified in the collective agreement, and that to his knowledge this has never been repealed. He also stated that he was present at the meeting with the minister and that he doesn’t know who was it that wrote the press release that followed. He stated that from time to time he is unemployed and that he was receiving unemployment benefits for a period in 2012 and for another period in 2013. Then he said that he spends more time unemployed than employed but that he goes to the S/Y irrespective of work.

Responding to questions from defense counsel Oplantzakis the witness stated that poverty in the S/Y can be attributed to the laws that were passed and that the Skaramangas Shipping Yards have been closed since September 30th, 2010, by parliamentary order, valid for 30 years. Responding to a question about the night of the attack, he said that the Golden Dawn members automatically closed ranks and as they were coming they were shouting for Poulikogiannis and at the same time they were closing them in. He went on to say that he doesn’t know whether anyone else was covering him as he was dragging the blood-drenched and unconscious Poulikogiannis to safety, but he does know that he was hit on the back, on the head, and on the arm. He also said that he can’t comment on whether ideologies should be persecuted, and that elections is the lawful way of ascending to power. As for Antonakopoulos and Chatzidakis he said that the leaders of the assailants had to have permission by the [Golden Dawn] regional leader, and that they didn’t take the initiative on their own. Responding to a question by the defense counsel about the choice of the time of the attack he stated that the attack was carried out at night because the streets are quiet and there are no passers-by, thus making an ambush easier to succeed. The perpetrators didn’t want to remain anonymous, since what they wanted was to consolidate their position.

Defense counsel Velentza then took the floor. About the start of the attack the witness stated that Poulikogiannis took two or three steps forward and that the Golden Dawners came all together and trapped them in a semi-circle, and that some of them were in the front and others in the back in the formation that he described previously. As he said, at the hospital the doctors advised him to wear a cervical collar but the doctors didn’t give him a written medical certificate neither did they order a follow-up examination. The x-ray didn’t show any fractures. The forensic surgeon he later visited and told him he was in pain told the witness to wear a cervical collar, which he refrained from doing for his own “psychological reasons”. Responding to more questions by the defense counsel he said that on the following day a protest gathering and march was organized in Perama and that the march passed outside the offices of Golden Dawn. The police force present at the march didn’t escort it all the way, but was stationed outside the Golden Dawn offices. As for the union, the witness stated that it was sued heavily in the months after the attack and that the heads of the union were persecuted. The witness himself was persecuted as vice-president of the union, and he said that he has been cleared of accusations against his person that he caused bodily harm. The defense counsel then asked about the labor union “Self-organization” and the witness stated that it’s not a union per se, and that it was never fully formed or succeeded in anything, since it organized its own elections, in which voted only the 28 that were already members. The S/Y has about 8,000 members, but not all of them are active. “Self-organization” participated along with the PAME union in the 2012 [S/Y] elections, and they got a few votes. A worker of the S/Y is not required to belong to a union.

Responding to relevant questions by Papadelis the witness stated that after the attack he talked with Poulikogiannis about the state of his health and what had happened during the attack, and when asked whether he talked with the rest of the witnesses he stated that he wasn’t even acquainted with most of them and that the only person he diccussed the matter with was Poulikogiannis. He also stated that he is a KKE supporter and that he goes to talks and events organized by the party. Chatzidakis was standing next to Pantazis, and it was these two that addressed Poulikogiannis. Nothing else happened before or after apart from what the witness has already stated. Antonakopoulos attacked immediately afterwards. The exchange was something along the lines of “Get out of here”, “We’re doing nothing illegal”, and then Antonakopoulos attacked. As the witness said, they were rushed by the group. After he saw Antonakopoulos strike for the first time, he said he had no time to see nothing else, since the blows rained down on him. During the exchange he didn’t see Pantazis or Chatzidakis hold anything or strike anyone. After they hit Poulikogiannis and the rest they de-escalated the situation by shouting “Those from Perama gather here…” and their time was up, as he said. When the witness arrived in Thriassio Hospital, which was much later, they were still giving stitches to Zymaris. At the hospital he took off his shirt and the doctors examined him. He had even been hit in the elbow but the bruise showed the next day. He needed x-rays on the neck and further examinations, but the doctors at Thrassio had to attend to the victim(s) of a serious car accident that had come in and didn’t give him much of their attention. They examined his ribs for fractures. He stated that he recognized Chatzidakis and Pantazis, since he knew them by sight, but they stated their political and party affiliations, and that the whole group had deadly intent, not only Pantazis and Chatzidakis.

Responding to questions by defense counsel Tzebetzis whether the party [:Golden Dawn] would have gotten more votes if they succeeded in murdering someone, the presiding judge intervened to inform the counsel that the question implied that he accepts that the party had deadly intent. The witness didn’t give an answer.

Responding to questions by defense counsel Michalolias, the witness stated that he scene of the attack was well-lit, despite the fact that they were standing in the space between two streetlights. He also testified that himself and Poulikogiannis may have had a better view of what happened from the rest of their companions, although he didn’t know where his companions had stood or whether they had a better or worse view of the attack.  The witness also said that when he saw the opposing group he didn’t know what it was they wanted, but he became immediately terrified because he knew who they were. He went forward with Poulikogiannis to see what they wanted. He also said that he “photographed” the events in his mind and that each piece connected with the next. Responding to a relevant question he said that the discussion with Poulikogiannis didn’t in any way effect his testimony and that he felt it was a miracle he and Poulikogiannis survived the attack. Responding to a question by the defense counsel why on his testimony of September 17th he didn’t mention that it was a miracle that they survived, while he did say so on the next testimony of October 1st, he stated that on the first testimony he made mention of unprovoked brutality, and it was afterwards that he understood what had really happened. In a subsequent question he answered that the last thing he heard was the phrase “Those from Perama gather here”, then after damaging the cars the assailants threw stones and wooden beams, and were gone in a minute. Some of the wooden clubs the assailants were carrying were four to five feet long and had metal protrusions at the end. At this point the defense counsel showed some photographs to the witness and asked him if he recognized anything. The witness said that he recognized the wooden clubs that were found on the scene and confirmed their length. He then said that he remembered that the club that hit him was shining in the light, but he can’t say for sure if it was the one that was shown to him in the photograph, and that metal protrusions had been added at the ends of the clubs. Then he recognized Goutis’ damaged car. Responding to a relevant question he stated that he was the one holding Diamantakis’ shirt in one of the photographs that is included in the case file and that Diamantakis had three wounds by a nail, which were visible to the naked eye, and that these wounds can’t have been caused by the wooden club shown to him by the defense counsel.

Defense counsel Alexiadis asked of the witness to describe the way the perpetrators trapped them. The witness said that the perpetrators formed a semi-circle and that the PAME members had their backs to a wall. That night 8-9 people from the PAME group were wounded, out of a group of 20. Responding to a question by the defense counsel, why the 50 attackers didn’t hit them all, the witness stated that he is not in a position to answer, but he does know that those that weren’t wounded couldn’t have escaped, but they could have protected themselves between the parked cars. The witness then answered questions about the video of Lagos in which the MP says that they have received complaints about the fishermen, and mentioned the S/Y saying that they would help their colleagues in the S/Y. Concerning another video that shows Lagos and other MP’s and speakers of Golden Dawn, taken on August 8th, he answered that he doesn’t know who it was that called the Party to the S/Y and that he remembers that in the video they say that it’s the strikes that have harmed the S/Y and not the wages, and that the ships will come again, and that the lackeys of PAME will be stamped out, and the abscess of KKE will be burst open. He also remembered the part where a shipworker said to hand out 5,000 pamphlets and then come to the cuckoo’s nest to rip them out. The witness also said that after the video the assault squad came to crush them, and that the group putting up posters were members of KKE. Poulikogiannis had a double duty. He was both a member of KKE and a president of the union, and there were other people in the attack with a double role. The sms message that Lagos sent to Patelis had said that the commies will be hit hard. Responding to a question by the defense counsel, how Golden Dawn had learned about the poster action, the registrar of the court read the witness’s previous testimony where he had said that “they didn’t know, they got wind of it later”. He also stated that he knows A. Chilios, a contractor and employer in the S/Y.

Defense counsel Evaggelatos (for Liakopoulos) asked whether the witness connected the Luqman case with Golden Dawn and where it was that he heard of the attack on Luqman. The witness stated that the murder had received a lot of attention, and from what he remembers it was when the trial started, without being totally certain. He stated that he had read articles that connected Golden Dawn with the murder of Luqman.

Responding to relevant questions by defense counsel Stavrianakis, the witness stated that many efforts have been made to find work in the S/Y, and that the ships left due to lacks of infrastructure. He said that the shipworkers didn’t have tools to work with and that it’s not a simple matter for a ship to come to the S/Y. He also said that the strikes are decided by a general assembly, and that it’s not the strikes that are responsible for the dearth of jobs and ships in the S/Y. He also stated that on the night in question they carried with them the posters, a bucket of glue, but no poles or shafts. He went on to state that he’s never heard of an incident during a KKE poster action and that if there have been, the KKE has never attacked anyone. The defense counsel asked whether to the phrase of the Golden Dawn members to get out of there, they answered that they intended to leave. The witness stated that the attackers had closed ranks at the same time, that the PAME members couldn’t have left, and that Poulikogiannis answered them that they were doing nothing illegal. The witness asked whether someone said something like “okay, we’ll leave if you make way”. The witness repeated that the PAME members didn’t provoke, and that everything happened at once, and that no one gave them any choice. In another question he said that they arrived on the scene on 2-3 cars and 4-5 motorbikes and that after the attack a comrade came and took him to the hospital, and when he testified that he went to the hospital with his own means he meant that he hadn’t been transferred by an ambulance. Finally, after a relevant question he stated that himself and Poulikogiannis never went around escorted by bodyguards or policemen, and despite that he had never before been attacked.

After a plea by the defense counsels that the courtroom was too cold, since the air-conditioning wasn’t working, the presiding judge adjourned, even though the next witness was present, for Tuesday, December 6th, at 09:00, in the Court of Appeals.

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