109th Hearing, Women’s Wing, Korydallos Prison, December 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 was limited attendance by the public, but a significant presence of members of the press.
2. Presence and representation of the defendants
Present at the start of the proceedings was only one of the defendants in the PAME case, namely Kastrinos.
The hearing started with the conclusion of the testimony by witness Lekodimitris. After a short recess the hearing continued with the testimony of witness and plaintiff Karaberis.
4. Continuation of testimony of witness Lekodimitris
Responding to questions by defense counsel Michalolias G., witness Lekodimitris stated that they had no time to escape, that they had been surrounded, and that he went back to his comrades instinctively, something that saved his life, because if the assailants had found him alone in the dark, it would have been the end of him. He stated that the assailants’ threats “We’ll smash you” regarded the Perama Shipping Yards [:S/Y] and that they wanted to get the message across to the local communities outside Perama, since a few earlier incidents had already created a climate of fear. He stressed that the main characteristic of Golden Dawn attacks is that that they are carried out at night and that he had heard of the assault squads before the attack against them. Concerning Poulikogiannis he stated that he saw them [:his comrades] drag him away and that he thought he was dead.
Responding to questions by defense counsel Alexiadis he said that Nazis want everyone to know that they plan on killing someone, and he referred once more to the sms messages exchanged by Lagos concerning the attack, which he read about on the internet. He repeated that 9 people were wounded in the attack, and when he was shown relevant photographs he vehemently denied that they depicted him wearing a red helmet, and he identified only Poulikogiannis, with whom he made it cleared that they are comrades, not friends, and that he is a man of mild disposition. Concerning Poulikogiannis’ behavior on the night in question he testified that he only saw his back and that he didn’t hear him say something or make a move or “hurl spit”, which was what the witness was asked. Concerning the Golden Dawn attack on Antipnoia he stated that they went in and completely trashed the place.
5. Testimony of witness and plaintiff Karaberis
Responding to questions by the members of the court he stated that he is an Electrician-Servicer and that he doesn’t work in the S/Y. On the night in question the group putting up posters numbered about 20 people, riding in 1-2 cars and 2-3 motorbikes. They met at the S/Y gates and moved along Dimokratias Ave. After 3-4 stops they reached the Papilas Shipping Yard around 23:30-00:00, where the attack took place. Due to his height, the witness was affixing a poster on a pole and he was standing before Goutis’ car, while Lekodimitris was further along in the direction of Piraeus, and there were others between them and across the street. The cars were to the right. They had taken from the S/Y the materials needed for the posters, such as a roller, a brush, and a stapler. After a short while, and while he was turned towards Piraeus, he saw two groups of about 25 people each, come out at the same time from the side streets and surround them in a threatening manner. They formed a semi-circle, the two groups joined and they [:the PAME members] found themselves in the middle. The persons introduced themselves. Some of them were wearing motorcycle helmets, others full-face masks, and yet others neck warmers. They were also wearing shirts emblazoned with meanders and ancient helmets, and some of them had shaved heads. Most of them were wearing black and were 20-40 years old, and were holding sticks, truncheons, crude wooden beams, and stones. The wooden beams were cut to a length of about three feet, and they were spiked, having been fitted with nails, screws, and metal bits. He also stated that he was amazed to see someone holding a weapon that looked like a scythe, resembling those used for agricultural work. It was then that two of the perpetrators came forward, holding nothing. He recognized one of them, because he had a balloon shop in Perama. They started shouting angrily where’s Poulikogiannis, and he went to the front. Then the two, as well as the crowd at their back, started hurling insults, such as “You commies, you’ll die right here, you’ll disappear from the port, we’ll f**k your mothers. Tonight you die.” According to the witness, he remained calm, because the attackers had superior power. He heard Poulikogiannis say “What do you think you’re doing here?”, and nothing else. Amid rising tension, the witness, who was standing between the wall and Goutis’ car, saw a stick from the first row come down on the head of Poulikogiannis. He couldn’t make out who was holding it, or if it was spiked. The witness believes that the blow on Poulikogiannis was the signal that ordered the rest of the group to attack.
He received many blows from about 7-8 people, among them Pantazis, and while trying to protect his face, he sustained a fracture on the fifth metacarpal which left him out of work for 2,5 months, since he was wearing a splint, and he was also wounded in his chest and clavicle.
According to the witness the attack unfolded in two stages: The insult stage lasted for about 4-5 minutes, and the beating stage lasted for about 2 minutes.
He repeated that they couldn’t have left or they would have left, because there were 50 assailants holding bats and sticks. Their goal wasn’t simply to threaten them and leave, they had a plan, they were out for blood. Then the call “Those from Perama this way” was heard and they disappeared as if by magic. He emphasized that the street, which at that point is one-way, had been closed off at the time of the attack, and that the police arrived 5-10 minutes later. He also testified that when the attack expired he saw about 100 feet away two motorbikes that belonged to the DIAS squad, but the policemen didn’t come near. Then they took him away in an ambulance.
As for the goal of the attack the witness claimed that it was a murderous attack and that it’s a miracle that there were no victims, and this can be proved by the way they were surrounded, by the use of spiked objects, and by the force of the attack. He explained that there were no victims because of the pre-arranged time limit of the attack, and maybe because the assailants, like the witness himself, saw Poulikogiannis down and thought him dead.
According to the witness the motives of the attack was the fact that communists have ideological differences with Golden Dawn – as he said, “we’re day and they’re night”, but he also mentioned financial motives, since according to him Golden Dawn doesn’t want strikes in the S/Y, because it is on good terms with the employers, and mentioned the statements by Lagos when he visited the S/Y, who made mention of the lackeys of PAME and KKE, who will be driven out of Perama, but also the statements of Kyritsopoulos, the president of the Golden Dawn union “Agios Nikolaos”, who had said that the wages must be lowered.
Responding to questions by the state prosecutor he said that the leading role in the attack was held by Pantazis and Chatzidakis, and concerning Pantazis’ phrase “bring your own to the football court” he said it was merely a pretext, since they couldn’t leave and the assailants knew it, and before the signal to start the attack was given some of the perpetrators had gone up on the hood of Goutis’ car and were opening and closing the expandable batons they were holding. Responding to a question about why they didn’t carry out their goal, he answered because they saw Poulikogiannis down, fainted, and drenched in blood, and because the pre-arranged time for the attack had expired, since this is how assault squads operate. The witness went on to state that he believes that the attack was known to the leadership of Golden Dawn, since Lagos had announced it, and nothing happens without the leader knowing about it, as Lagos, Michaloliakos, and Panagiotaros have said, mentioning an older statement that no deviation is accepted without an order from the leadership and that every order is obeyed without question as to how and why.
Responding to questions by the Deputy State Prosecutor the witness said that Pantazis was hitting people at random, and that the witness didn’t react because the assailants were holding sticks and bats and he just wanted to save his life. He also stated that the attack was unprovoked and well prepared, exactly the way assault squads operate.
Responding to questions by the civil action counsels he said that the semi-circle that the perpetrators formed had three rows and that the first row, which carried the makeshift weapons, hit Poulikogiannis, who had done nothing to provoke the attack. The witness also said that if he hadn’t protected his head with his hands, no one knows what would have become of him.
Responding to a relevant question about the connection of the Golden Dawn political party and the criminal actions of assault squads, the witness stated that the members, such as the regional head of Perama, participate in assault squads, take photos together and shout slogans such as “Blood, Honor, Golden Dawn!”. He also referred to the statement by Michaloliakos who had told his audience, “They want to end us, but they can’t, because you’re the assault squads”. The witness mentioned that he lived through the attack by an assault squad and that the expression of Nazi ideology is tantamount to criminal actions.
Responding to a question about whether the motive of these criminal actions is Nazi ideology, defense counsel Zografos commented ironically “he’s an electrician, what can he say on the matter?”, to which the presiding judge swiftly and forcefully stressed that it’s not allowed to say such a thing for any person and any occupation.
In another question Karaberis responded that he doesn’t know of any Golden Dawn incident where Golden Dawn was provoked, and reported that during the attack the assailants didn’t do as they wanted, but were operating according to a plan. He reported that Pantazis was the man that had also participated in the attack against the Egyptian fishermen, and referred once more to the sms messages exchanged by Lagos, regional head of Piraeus, during and after the attack, and which had been leaked to the press.
As for the objects carried by the assailants the witness estimated that they needed to have been prepared in advance, while the attack on Poulikogiannis not only didn’t deter the assailants, but got their adrenaline running. He also maintained that the attack wasn’t meant as a personal one on Poulikogiannis, but on his capacity as member of KKE and president of the union, and that the attack can be neither a random occurrence, nor a deviation, but its cause was blind obedience to the organization. Finally, he said that the word “butchered” that Lagos sent, to him means slaughter.
Responding to questions by defense counsel Tsogas he reported that Golden Dawn has spoken about the abscess of PAME, which is responsible for ships not coming to the S/Y. About the statements of Panagiotaros concerning the wages the witness said that it doesn’t matter what anyone says on the balcony, but what he does. Responding to questions about whether the fracture on his hand was of the kind that afflicts amateur boxers, he said that he doesn’t know.
Responding to questions by defense counsel Zografos he stated that he feared for his own life, and that the phrase “get out of here” meant the Perama area in total. Concerning the wages he stated that Golden Dawn isn’t on the part of the workers, that it uses terror tactics so that the workers remain subservient.
Responding to questions by defense counsel Velentza he said that he retreated the moment he saw the assailants and that he, like his comrades, was very collected and it was maybe because of this that the perpetrators tried to taunt them with the phrase “get your own and let’s see who’s best”. He maintained that the perpetrators wanted to create a climate of terror and that’s why they swore and insulted them before attacking.