108th Hearing, Court of Appeals, December 6th, 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. Today’s proceedings were held in Korydallos, where audience and journalist attendance was limited compared to other hearings.
2. Presence and representation of the defendants
None of the defendants was present at the start of the proceedings. About halfway through defendant Ioannis Kastrinos appeared and was recorded as present. Eighteen (18) defendants were represented by their counsels, and the rest were recorded as absent.
3. Testimony of witness and plaintiff Stavros Lefkodimitris
- The witness testifies before the court
Responding to questions by the presiding judge, the witness stated that he was participating in a poster action organized by the KKE when he spotted two groups of Golden Dawners emerge in military formation from two streets perpendicular to Dimokratias Ave, near the shipyard. The witness went on to say that these persons were operating as a unified group, as if they had been drilled beforehand, and acting as if they had received orders. They were wearing Golden Dawn hallmarks (black clothes, helmets, weapons, and t-shirts emblazoned with meanders), and were armed with batons, clubs, and poles fitted with nails. They moved towards the people putting up posters and told them “Get lost, we’ll fuck you up”, but without letting them any avenue of escape. They cornered the KKE members next to a scaffolding that had been erected on the pavement, and formed a semi-circle with their bodies. The witness also stated that the phrase “get lost” wasn’t a genuine urge to make them leave, but the assailants meant that the unionists should abandon the Perama Shipping Yards [:S/Y], and went on to connect the attack with a video in which 3 leading Golden Dawn members and some workers are seen saying they will oust the communists from the S/Y. He singled out two of the assailants as leaders, identifying defendant Pantazis, for whom he initially said that he wasn’t holding any weapon, but then saw him strike one of his comrades with a wooden bat – the man that was hit was probably Karaberis. The witness also stated that the hits he sustained while he was between the scaffolding and the car, were hits of violent fury that landed on the head, the arms, and the rest of his body. In order to adequately describe the force of the strikes and the fear that he felt for his life, he said that he dodged a wooden bat that was aiming at his head, which connected with the scaffolding and broke in two. He also said that they couldn’t defend themselves in any way, not with the tools they had brought to put up posters, and that he just tried to retreat and cover himself. He went on to say that when he saw Poulikogiannis unconscious and drenched in blood in the arms of Vaxevanis, who was trying to drag him away, he thought he was dead, but later he saw him recover his senses. As for the assailants’ goal and motives, the witness testified that the perpetrators wanted to kill them, and that that was the goal of the attack. He also connected the Nazis with the assailants and said that these are the motives of Nazis. He stated that they wanted to oust the unionists and the communists from the S/Y. Then he said that he knows of other attacks carried out by Golden Dawn, and he cited them along with his sources of information for each one.
Responding to questions by the state prosecutor the witness stated that the attack in question was premeditated and that it was evident from the assailants’ readiness and from the fact that threats had been made in advance and were leaked to the media. Then he said that the attack that they suffered was an attack by an assault squad. He went on to say that the attack was a double one, since it was aimed against both KKE and the unionists.
Responding to questions by the deputy prosecutor the witness stated that the man he saw get hit by Pantazis was probably Karaberis and that the cases of Fyssas, the Egyptians, and the attack against the KKE members had a lot in common. First, he said, the attacks happen at night; second, the perpetrators are dressed in black; third, they introduce themselves; fourth, they act suddenly and quickly; fifth, they are armed; sixth, they have the numerical advantage.
Responding to questions by the deputy presiding judge whether the witness believes that the one he singled out as the leader acted of his own accord, he answered that it’s out of the question, and that the regional heads do nothing without informing the leader of Golden Dawn, let alone about an attack on communists.
4. Examination of the witness by the civil action counsels
Responding to a question by civil counsel Sapountzakis why in a previous testimony he had labelled the attack “merciless” the witness stated that the assailants showed no mercy, that they stopped at nothing, and that they had been trained to carry out the attack to its conclusion.
Responding to questions by civil action counsel Vrettos, he said that whoever saw Poulikogiannis unconscious and covered in his own blood would infer he was dead, and that the statements that were leaked to the media had been made by Lagos, Panagiotaros, and Michos, who had come to the S/Y. The witness then said about the assailants’ method and plan, their weapons, as well as the communication and briefing they had between them before the attack.
Responding to questions by civil action counsel Zafeiriou about the assault squad, the party, the symbols, the slogans, and the statements by leading members of Golden Dawn, and how they are connected to the attacks, the witness, amid protests, answered that they are based in the party’s Nazi ideology which is imposed through violence, and cited a quote by Zisimopoulos who has said “Yes, we’re Nazis” and also mentioned the slogan “Blood, Honor, Golden Dawn” which refers to racial purity. He also mentioned fascist symbols, such as the meander and the eagle. After an intervention by the presiding judge the witness answered that criminal actions are deeply connected to and support Nazi ideology.
Responding to a question by civil action counsel Kabagiannis about how he explains the phrase included in the court order about Golden Dawn’s extrovert political activity, the witness answered that it can be concluded by the crimes they commit. He also stated that the weapons had been prepared in advance and that they had brought them to use them with violent force, and that none of the gathered assailants tried to dissuade the attack against them [:the KKE members].
5. Cross-examination of the witness by the defense counsels
The first to take the floor for the defense was defense counsel Anastasopoulou (for Kastrinos). The witness said that he cannot identify the defendant in question.
Responding to questions by defense counsel Tsagas (for Germenis) the witness answered that it’s possible that the bat that hit him was not one of the spiked ones. The presiding judge then rejected a number of questions that had to do with the witness’s political activity and beliefs, when those questions were not specific.
Responding to questions by defense counsel Zografos the witness answered that he understood right away that the assailants on the night in question were members of Golden Dawn from: their formation; Golden Dawn’s former activity; the clothes they were wearing; and the fact that they were armed. More specifically, he stated that in that period Perama was living in a climate of fear, and his logic dictated that they were Golden Dawn. In the next question by the defense counsel, why the assailants didn’t attack the women and children, the witness stated that the attack had a double purpose, since the victims were communists and union members in the S/Y, and they wanted to hit those especially. He also stated that earlier they had threatened that the unions and KKE would be thrown out of the S/Y.
Defense counsel Oplantzakis then took the floor. Responding to relevant questions the witness said that the victims spotted them immediately but were immediately cornered, they [:the Golden Dawners] got out [:from the side streets] and started cornering them. The witness stated that they hadn’t understood that 50 people had been lying in wait hidden in the side streets. During the cross-examination by Oplantzakis the presiding judge rejected questions that were either not specific or relative to the case at hand.
Defense counsel Velentza (for Kalaritis, Kouzilos, Barekas, Stefas, and Chrysafitis) examined the witness about subjects that had been already clarified, and as a result the witness testified once more all that he had mentioned so far, and the presiding judge kept reminding the witness’s testimony.
The last to take the floor was defense counsel Papadelis (for Kasidiaris). The witness answered everything he could recall about the hospital and the wounds he sustained and said that he couldn’t remember all that well because he had been dizzy and that he didn’t pay attention to the examinations he underwent, and so he can’t say exactly what they were.
At this point the presiding judge announced one more court date for the next month, the 16th of January, at the Court of Appeals. The court dates for January are as follows: 10/1, 16/1, 17/1, 24/1, and 25/1 in the Court of Appeals, and 12/1, 19/1, 20/1, and 26/1 in Korydallos Prison. Following a motion by the counsels and the registrar, the hearing of December 8th was postponed due to the general strike and a personal commitment of the registrar. The proceedings were adjourned for Tuesday, December 13th, 2016 in Korydallos.