115th Hearing, Court of Appeals, January 16th, 2017
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 present in the courtroom, as well as a small number of spectators.
2. Presence of defendants
No defendants were present during the proceedings.
- Examination of witness Giorgos Sklavolias by the members of the court
The court pointed out that the witness is not a plaintiff in the case. Responding to questions the witness testified that he is a resident of Perama, that in the past he worked as a seaman, and that he has been working in the Perama Shipping Yards [S/Y] since 1998.
On September 12th, 2013, his comrades from the Communist Party of Greece [:KKE], of which he is a member, called him to participate in a poster action concerning the KNE Festival. On the same night, about 20 people gathered, in 2-3 cars and a few motorbikes. A little before 00:00 they reached the Papilas Shipping Yard. There wasn’t much traffic and the street wasn’t well-lit. There were no parked cars at that part of the street, except their own. The witness was writing a slogan on the plastic sheeting draped over a scaffolding that had been erected there. About 5 people had gone ahead to put up posters, and were not visible by the main group. The witness had completed about 70% of his task when he looked to the right.
He saw a group of 20-25 persons approaching them and carrying weapons. Especially notable was a pole that had something that looked like a sickle at the end, which prompted him to think that the people approaching them didn’t want to beat them up, but had deadly intent. Only 4-5 persons from the group of 20-25 were not carrying weapons. The members of the group were dressed uniformly, with black shirts and shaved heads. At this point the witness saw another group coming from the opposite direction, bearing the same characteristics and weapons. All together they had more than twice the numbers of the witness’s group, and they proceeded to surround them. The witness and his comrades had no avenue of escape, there was no way to get away. The witness realized they were Golden Dawners.
The witness had seen their leader, nicknamed “balloon man”, many times in Perama -since he lives there- and knew that he was a member of Golden Dawn. Later he learned that his name was Pantazis. The two groups merged and two men, “balloon man” and an another one, told them they were members of Golden Dawn, and that they should get lost. One person from the opposing group of people told the witness’s group “if you want a fight, let’s go to a soccer match” – according to the witness he used street slang. They asked for Poulikogiannis -the president of the Metalworkers’ Union- who stepped to the front, and it was then that Pantazis told him “fuck your mother’s cunt that spit you out” [the witness asked for permission by the court to repeat the phrase]. Only a minute had passed since the two groups appeared. He and his comrades never swore or challenged the opposing group in any way.
At that point the Golden Dawners’ assault began in earnest. The witness managed to find cover behind one of the cars and was not hit. The attack on his comrades lasted for about a minute. They hit them, they threw stones at them as big as a brick, some of the attackers had spiked clubs and started hitting the cars. Then someone said “Let’s go, it’s gone bad”, and someone else said “Those from Perama this way”.
The witness then saw Poulikogiannis on the pavement bleeding profusely, supported by his comrades, and breathing with difficulty. The witness lifted Poulikogiannis head a little to ease his discomfort and his shirt got blood all over it [at this point the witness presented to the court a white shirt with dried blood all over it]. By this point the residents of the surrounding buildings gathered enough courage to come and see what had happened. The police arrived at this point.
Among the residents the witness saw someone, probably named Lagos as he was later informed [not related to the defendant], who must have been a Golden Dawn sympathizer or member, who said to the other residents “Not all of us are the same” [meaning that not all members of Golden Dawn are like the people that carried out the assault]. The witness told him that if his own party “had people like those, they would have been kicked out”.
After some delay the ambulances finally arrived at the scene. When shown photographs at the police station the witness identified Kyriakos Antonakopoulos, a worker at the S/Y. He also saw a short and stocky person, whom he wasn’t able to identify.
The witness believes that the attack was carried out because Golden Dawn wanted to drive PAME out of the S/Y. Because PAME’s members are fighting for workers’ rights. The witness mentioned other similar attacks [which are the object of this trial]. The witness also mentioned the statements by Lagos, that they will stamp out from the S/Y the “lackeys” of KKE.
Responding to a question by the State Prosecutor, the witness stated that he didn’t know how the attackers knew that he and his comrades had gone out to put up posters, and if they had been followed. He also said that the assailants had deadly intent, but they didn’t manage to attain their goal, because they had limited time, and because they thought they had already killed Poulikogiannis. Nine of his comrades were driven to the hospital, and another 3 or 4 -the witness included- weren’t injured. The assailants had no intention to negotiate. The assailants’ median age was about 30, there could have been younger ones, but he didn’t see any minors. The witness was informed by his comrades that at the time of the assault a DIAS motorcycle squad was a short distance away. He is not acquainted with Chatzidakis and Kastrinos, but he heard they had participated in the assault.
Responding to a question by the Deputy State Prosecutor, the witness answered that the assault was ordered by the highest echelons of Golden Dawn, and that there are relevant articles in the newspaper Efimerida ton Syntakton which prove it.
4. Examination of the witness by the civil action counsels
The witness was questioned by the civil action counsels Stratis, Sapountzakis, and Papadakis.
He pointed out that the weapons that were used in the assault were deadly and that the assailants could not have found them in the street. The Golden Dawners did not carry pamphlets and paint, only the aforementioned objects, which they seemed to know how to use very effectively. The witness testified that the force they assailants used on the cars was the same force they used to hit his comrades, and that the damage of such hits on the head is ten times greater. Also that the use of these objects meant that the assailants weren’t planning merely to beat them up, but to kill them.
The witness went on to say that the decision to attack was taken in the highest echelons of Golden Dawn, and not by the rank-and-file at the local chapter. The assailants were very well organized and the scene of the attack was chosen because it was easier to surround him and his comrades, because they would have no avenue of escape. In total, the assault lasted for about 2-3 minutes. The duration of the assault was prearranged and the assailants were coordinated, they attacked and then they left.
According to the witness, the daily wages of a cleaner in the S/Y is €70, and the Golden Dawn union is suggesting it be lowered to €20-30, something that is only beneficial to the S/Y bosses.
5. Examination of the witness by the defense counsels
The witness was questioned by the following defense counsels, in the order they are mentioned: Dimitrakopoulos, Tsagas, Kontovazenitis, Zografos, Oplantzakis, Velentza, Papadellis, Michalolias (N.), Tsebetzis, Michalolias (G.), Roussopoulos, Alexiadis, and Karydomatis.
The witness testified that he took cover behind one of the cars to protect himself from the thrown rocks as well as other threats. He made it clear that the slang phrase “if you want a fight, let’s go to a soccer match” that he mentioned earlier was not said in the context of a negotiation. He stated that he did not paint over another political party’s slogan. He pointed out that Pantazis was giving the orders. The witness also specified that he saw the assailants when they were 10-15 feet away. That the assailants did not attack outright, because they first wanted to insult and humiliate him and his comrades. They wanted to kill more people apart from Poulikogiannis, but they couldn’t kill all 15 of them, and so they focused on him. From where he was standing he couldn’t see who had hit Poulikogiannis. Poulikogiannis got on the ambulance supported by his comrades, and he wasn’t talking on his cellphone. The residents of the surrounding area were outraged by the incident. The witness testified alone during the preliminary phase.
Responding to a question by defense counsel Michalolias (N.) about whether the witness’s union would help the S/Y workers that belonged to the Golden Dawn union with labor matters, the witness testified that “We would try. Whether we would succeed is another matter altogether. In the past we have helped Chatzidakis.” He explained that he referenced articles from media other than the ones controlled by KKE, in order to not give the impression that he only supports the media of his own party.
The witness stated that despite the fact that he does not appear as a plaintiff in the case in question, in his preliminary testimony he stated that he wishes that the perpetrators be prosecuted in a court of law because acts such as these must be punished, no matter who they target.
At this point the presiding judge adjourned for Tuesday, January 17th, 2017 (when witness I. Pountidis is expected to testify before the court).