119th Hearing, Court of Appeals, January 24th, 2017
- 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 significant public attendance at the hearing, as well as members of the press present.
- Presence and representation of the defendants
No defendants were present at this hearing.
The proceedings commenced with the start and conclusion of the testimony of witness Myronas Simantiris, concerning the assault on the PAME members. Witness Dimitrios Tsarouchas, a retired policeman who was present at the search of the Golden Dawn offices the night after the incident, was also called to the stand. The registrar informed the court that witness Malami (a policewoman) has faxed a medical certificate which says that due to pregnancy she should not travel until she has given birth in the Arta General Hospital. It was further announced that witness Ath. Lyrintzis (a bus driver and eyewitness) has been ordered to appear before the court in the next hearing.
ΙV. Testimony of witness Myronas Simantiris
Responding to questions by the court the witness stated that he is a worker in the Perama Shipping Yards (S/Y), and that he has been involved in the administration of the union since 1986, holding various positions. He said that in the 2014 union elections, the only candidates were their own, while the other side, supported by SYRIZA, withdrew from the election process. The witness testified that the threats from members of Golden Dawn intensified after the increased percentage of the vote the party received in the parliamentary elections of 2012. There had been reports from terrified colleagues who were working in the S/Y, who in short were saying that Golden Dawn will take control of the S/Y and that they [:the members of the present union] will never work on a ship again. The sources of information were either S/Y bosses or members of Golden Dawn. According to the witness, Golden Dawn opposed PAME’s attempts to keep wages at acceptable levels, and wanted to bring everything down. The witness mentioned that Golden Dawn was the party that was prepared to do the dirty work for the S/Y bosses.
The workers hadn’t taken the information seriously until the announcement that targeted some of their union. More specifically, Poulikogiannis informed the union that 4 of the members of the administrative committee, among them the witness, who was then serving as secretary, had been targeted by Golden Dawn in a meeting they had with the bosses, and the sum of €300,000 was mentioned to murder these four. The president of the union did not name his source, in order to preserve his anonymity. The witness maintained that the validity of the information they received was confirmed a year later by the attack against the members of PAME.
According to the witness, their targeting would result in a period of terror among the workers and they would compromise with far lower wages, without security and health standards, given that it is a dangerous occupation, and employee security is a cost that the employers have to shoulder. The targeted members were guarding themselves against everyone, and in retrospect it was proven that they [:the bosses and Golden Dawn] had intended their physical elimination.
The meeting between the S/Y bosses and Golden Dawn took place immediately after the elections of 2012, according to information obtained by Poulikogiannis and presented to them in a place in Syggrou Ave. The S/Y bosses were represented by a few members of their employers’ association -Metaxas, Pyrinis, and Metaxopoulos- and Golden Dawn was represented by Michaloliakos, Lagos, and Kasidiaris. The subject of the meeting was the eradication of PAME and communists from the S/Y, and Golden Dawn was a boon for the bosses, since it had the means to “cleanse” the S/Y using its assault squads.
After receiving the information, representatives of the union went to the Piraeus State Prosecutor and verbally informed him, along with the Chief of the Coast Guard, so that the coast guards in the area would be put on alert, and a press release was issued. According to Simantiris, Golden Dawn’s plans were put on temporary hold because of these countermeasures.
Responding to questions by the presiding judge, the witness answered that Golden Dawn has a small number of supporters in the S/Y, but they could take the S/Y by the use of terror tactics alone. The union “Agios Nikolaos” was mentioned, which numbers 30 members, accepts only Greeks, and supports the reduction of wages.
The threats continued up to the attack of September 2013, and after that only at a purely personal level.
Responding to another question by the presiding judge, the witness pointed out that they addressed the employers’ association, who vehemently denied having attended any meeting with Golden Dawn, speaking through its then president Athanasopoulos. They were forced to admit the meeting only after the events of September 2013, but they insisted that it was purely a matter of formality, same as the meetings they had had with representatives of other parties.
Responding to questions by the State Prosecutor, the witness stated that they filed the complaint with the Piraeus State Prosecutor verbally, and they didn’t hear anything about the progress of the investigation. Responding to a relevant question the witness stated that the attack was carried out at a distance of 1,5 km from the point that his comrades started from, so the Golden Dawners had ample time to set up their ambush.
Concerning the bosses that were present at the meeting, the witness mentioned that apart from Pyrinis, who employs members of Golden Dawn, the rest employ other people as well since there are not enough workers. He went on to support that Golden Dawn could profit from the reduction of wages, and also said that the leadership had perfect knowledge, as it was shown after the incident.
Responding to a question by a member of the court about why they chose to attack a group, since they had targeted specific members of the union, the witness stated that they wanted to create a general climate of fear, given that at the time they enjoyed a status of procedural immunity.
Responding to questions by the civil action counsels the witness stated that the bosses went to Golden Dawn because it possesses the means -the assault squads and the military structure- to carry out murderous attacks such as the one on his comrades, on Fyssas, etc.
The witness supported that the meeting was not a matter of formality, and it was never officially denied, either by the bosses or by Golden Dawn. He also mentioned the threats issued by Lagos in August 2013, and testified that the Golden Dawn leadership not only knew, but gave the go ahead for the attack, since, because of its hierarchical structure, no one does anything without an order. This is proven by the exchange of text messages by Lagos, who is a MP and is active in Perama. He also reported that he has heard that Pantazis is the head of the local chapter in Perama and that during the attack, from what he heard from his comrades, he gave the order “Those from Perama come this way”.
The witness also made mention of the union “Agios Nikolaos” which he termed “slave labor” since the wages it arranges for sea voyages are too low, and it also excludes immigrants from its ranks. The witness hypothesized that this union could be a way to achieve all the objectives they couldn’t with the attack. The president of the Agios Nikolaos Union, Kyritsopoulos, has stated that if PAME is driven out of the S/Y the wages will fall and Greeks will have work.
Responding to questions by the defense counsels the witness supported that Golden Dawn is jointly responsible for the reductions in wages, since they never objected to any of the [:austerity] measures, and also said that the attack was organized by the leadership of Golden Dawn, and that Lagos had announced it before it happened. He also said that, apart from a single company, which immediately after the attack proceeded to hire a group of Golden Dawners, the rest of the employers continue to employ workers normally.
The witness stated that according to their information the sum of €300,000 changed hands so that the unionists would be physically eliminated, and mentioned that he was called as a witness during the investigation, because he had met with Athanasopoulos in the Delis factory, and Athanasopoulos had been forced to admit that there had been a meeting with Golden Dawn, and the witness stressed that he does not believe that these employers are representative of all employers in the S/Y.
- Testimony of witness Dimitris Tsarouchas
Responding to questions by the court the witness stated that he is a policeman, retired after 27 years of service. In September 2013 he was stationed in Perama, a force which numbers 9-10 people, and whose Commander was Mr. Bouzas. On September 13th, 2013 he was at the station a little before 04:00, where the officers from State Security had already arrived and proceeded with the preliminary investigation. He testified that State Security was called in because the incident was a serious one, something he had never witnessed in all his years of service. He stayed at the station until the preliminary questioning was over, and then they were called by the State Prosecutor’s office to the offices of the Perama chapter of Golden Dawn in order to conduct a search of the premises, after an anonymous tip received at 10-11 at night by the officer on duty, that objects that had been used in the attack were stored there.
More than 50 persons participated in the search of the Golden Dawn offices, among them 4-5 from State Security, from the Piraeus division, from the Perama Police Precinct, as well as a unit of riot police. They arrived at the offices a little before 01:00 accompanied by the State Prosecutor. The locksmith broke the lock and the State Prosecutor, the officers from State Security, and the men from the Pireaus division went in and stayed for 20 minutes, without finding anything of worth. The locksmith then tried to fix the lock, whereupon Lagos arrived with one other person, and he started shouting, swearing, and pushing at the policemen, and heatedly talking to the State Prosecutor, saying that he will press charges. The witness said that Lagos was furious, that he broke a glass window, and that he didn’t let the locksmith fix the lock. The Chief ordered the policemen present to depart, to prevent further troubles.
Responding to questions by the civil action counsels, the witness stated that defendant Lagos’ behavior was highly irregular, and said that 50 policemen had been gathered for fear of violent repercussions. Responding to another question the witness stated that he has never seen a MP behave in such a way, and that it was the first time that a police force of such size was used to conduct a search, which he attributed to the fact that they were going to search the offices of Golden Dawn. He also stated that if another person, the owner of the offices for example, had pushed the policemen, he would have been immediately arrested for resisting authority, and that Lagos was treated differently because he was a member of parliament, and that as far as he knows no case-file was later opened for Lagos.
At this point the presiding judge adjourned for Wednesday, January 25th, 2017, at 09:00.