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DAY 116: “THEY TRAPPED US LIKE RATS”

116th Hearing, Court of Appeals, January 17th, 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, and a great number of spectators.

2. Presence of defendants

Present at the proceedings was one (1) defendant, I. Kastrinos.

3. Proceedings

  1. Examination of witness and plaintiff Iordanis Pountidis by the members of the court

Responding to questions the witness testified that he is a resident of Amfiali, and that he has been working as a welder for many years in the Perama Shipping Yards [S/Y]. The witness stated that he is a member of the Board of the Piraeus Metalworkers’ Union, and that in the past he has served as its president for 16-17 years.

On the night of September 12th, 2013, he was scheduled to go out and put up posters in order to propagandize the KNE Festival. About 15 people gathered at about 23:10-23:15 at the limit of the district of Perama, in 3 cars and 3-4 motorbikes. They were also carrying a bucket, paint, and two paintbrushes. The witness was the oldest in the group, about 60 years old. They made three stops before reaching the Papilas Shipping Yard at around 24:00, where they made another stop to continue putting up posters. They parked by the shipping yard, on the right side of the street, where they found a good place to paint a slogan. Some people were painting and others were putting up posters, and it’s possible that still others were far ahead putting up posters. At that point a group of 25 people came out of a side street on the right and at the same time another group came out from a side street on the left, and they surrounded the witness and his comrades. They left no avenue of escape. It’s possible that these people were waiting in the side streets, which are dark, waiting for the PAME members to reach that spot. The witness noticed them when they started swearing at the PAME members: “Commies we’re going to fuck you up, fuck your families, commies you’re gonna die”.

The two groups, that had now merged into one, consisted primarily of persons 30-40 years old, but included many youngsters 17-23 years old. In general, they were young, wore black shirts, and had their heads shaved. About 10 of them had their faces covered. The two commanders of the group weren’t holding anything, however the people at the front carried spiked clubs, steel bars etc. and those at the back carried big rocks. The witness stated that these implements “were made to be used on our heads”. The witness was fully able to observe the above even though the lighting conditions weren’t optimal.

The witness realized immediately that the group consisted of members of Golden Dawn. At the front of the group stood Pantazis and Chatzidakis, who asked to talk to Poulikogiannis. The witness knew Pantazis by sight, who was known by the nickname “balloon man”. He knew Chatzidakis in the workplace, where he had introduced himself as a Golden Dawner, proud to be the right-hand man of MP Lagos. Apart from these two the witness also recognized Antonakopoulos and Kastrinos (whom he identified later, when shown photographs by the police).

The two commanders asked to see Poulikogiannis (the president of the Piraeus Metalworker’s Union), who stepped to the front. The witness was standing 6-8 feet to the left of Poulikogiannis and the two Golden Dawn commanders. The witness heard Chatzidakis say the hooligan -as he termed it- phrase “now we’re happening”. The witness didn’t talk to the two commanders. Poulikogiannis tried to tell them that “these things shouldn’t happen” and then Chatzidakis said something that sounded like a signal. His comrades later told the witness that Chatzidakis had said “What are you lookin’ at?”

At this point the witness saw the first club come down, Poulikogiannis’ face went red with blood, and he fell to the pavement. His comrades fell on him to shield him from further blows, and the witness thought he was dead. The Golden Dawners started hitting the witness and his comrades with the weapons they were holding, aiming for the head. Then the witness heard Chatzidakis say “Those from Perama this way”. The witness had full control of his faculties, but was absolutely terrified. The only thing he cared about was that nobody died. The witness was injured in the head and sides, and his limbs were bruised for about 10 days.

The witness had seen two motorbikes of the DIAS police squad at a distance of 150-200 feet from the scene of the attack. The motorbikes were parked and the policemen were standing around, in full view of what was happening. The incident lasted for about 2½ minutes, during which no cars passed in the street: It can’t have been by chance, the street must have been blocked. Soon after the Golden Dawners left the police arrived on the scene, 10-15 DIAS squad motorbikes and one patrol car. According to the witness they must have acted in concert with the assailants. None of the policemen went in pursuit of the assailants despite the fact that some neighbors were shouting and pointing at the direction the Golden Dawners had gone off to. The policemen did nothing, the only thing they cared about was to restore traffic flow in the direction to Piraeus.

The witness and seven of his comrades were transferred by ambulance to Thriassio Hospital, where they were given first aid. At about 04:30-05:00 am (in the early hours of September 13th, 2013) they were discharged. The doctors advised them to get a tetanus shot in a pharmacy, since the vaccine was in short supply in the hospital.

According to the witness, the goal of the assailants was to target KKE and PAME “to send a message to the local community. By targeting a union that had strong influence in the workforce. They chose us because we were a double target, communists and workers”. The witness mentioned that the S/Y bosses stood to profit from the attack, since their employees would stop fighting for their rights. They had arranged with Golden Dawn to found the Agios Nikolaos Union. This union is still in operation, they have about 20-25 people, but it has zero influence. According to the witness, “the people now detest them, especially after the murder of Pavlos Fyssas. They detest them in the S/Y, but also in general. The murder of Pavlos Fyssas had much to do with it”.

The witness believes that the Golden Dawners “on that night wanted to murder people”. Their weaponry was equal to the task, but they failed by blind chance (and not because of police intervention). The assailants thought they had achieved their objective, because they saw that Poulikogiannis had fainted. As for the witness himself, one of his eyes had swollen shut, and his comrades were wiping blood from his face and were telling him “Iordanis don’t die, Iordanis don’t die”.

The witness testified that the attack was not ordered by the two commanders, but by the leadership of Golden Dawn. He mentioned the meeting that had taken place between leading members of Golden Dawn and the S/Y bosses, and the text messages that Lagos had sent etc. As he said, the members of Golden Dawn “refer to a total obedience to the Leader. You can do nothing until you get approval by Michaloliakos, Kasidiaris, Lagos, these gentlemen that they have made unto gods. They couldn’t even get a loaf of bread on their own”.

The witness mentioned similar incidents, such as the attack against the Egyptian fishermen etc. The witness believes that these attacks are the result of the Golden Dawn Nazi ideology. Concerning Pavlos Fyssas, he mentioned that he was a friend of the witness’s son, and that he was devastated by his death. Responding to a question by the Assistant State Prosecutor, the witness testified that the assailants carry out these attacks by striking and immediately leaving. The next day they deny everything to cover it up. Concerning the murder of P. Fyssas, they had said that Roupakias wasn’t a member of Golden Dawn, when he was in fact second-in-command in his chapter, and the paymaster at that.

Responding to a question by the State Prosecutor the witness testified that the assailants had noticed the witness’s group before the attack and had mobilized the mechanism at their disposal.

4. Examination of witness and plaintiff Iordanis Pountidis by the civil action counsels

The witness was questioned by the civil action counsels Theodoropoulos, Vrettos, Antanasiotis, Zafeiriou, Tzelis, Papadopoulou (Ch.), Tobatzoglou, Kabagiannis, Zotos, and Papadakis.

The witness explained that the S/Y is of general interest -as opposed to local interest- for many reasons. He cleared out that the differences the employees had with the bosses of the S/Y were about the security measures and the collective agreements.

The witness believes that the statements that are directed by the Golden Dawn leadership to the members of the inner circle, are perceived differently by those that simply vote Golden Dawn.

The witness repeated that the attack wasn’t a random meeting, but an ambush that had been set up in advance. As for the murder of P. Fyssas, the witness stated that “he was a target. He was one of their objectives. […] The mechanism was mobilized and the target was terminated”.

Concerning the weapons that were used during the attack the witness clarified that they demanded hours, perhaps days, of work to make, and that the assailants had them before the attack.

Responding to a question by civil action counsel Tobatzoglou about whether there’s a change in the behavior of the members of Golden Dawn since the murder of Pavlos Fyssas, the witness said that yes, “they say that they’re not nationalist-socialist [Nazis], but simply nationalists. They renounce their murderous attacks. Back then they were proud of them, they had procedural immunity and believed that they were gaining influence. Now they are covering up their activities”.

Responding to a question by civil counsel Kabagiannis, the witness explained that the same people are members of the local chapters of the Golden Dawn party, as well as members of its assault squads.

5. Examination of witness and plaintiff Iordanis Pountidis by the defense counsels

The witness was questioned by defense counsel Alygizakis. Responding to his questions the witness testified that from what he has heard from colleagues, Chatzidakis and Antonakopoulos have participated in similar actions. The witness explained that the phrase “Those from Perama this way” was the signal for the assailants to make their escape.

At this point the hearing was adjourned for Thursday, January 19th, 2017, when the examination of witness and plaintiff I. Pountidis by the defense counsels is expected to continue.

 

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