135th Hearing, Court of Appeals, March 8th, 2017
I. 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 a relatively limited attendance from members of the press, reduced public attendance, and the presence of the police in the courtroom remained unchanged.
ΙΙ. Presence of defendants
None of the defendants was present at the hearing.
ΙΙΙ. Testimony of witness Kimonas Koursopoulos
A. Examination by the members of the court
Responding to questions by the presiding judge, the witness testified that he is a student of interior design, in a public vocational school and that he finished the 3rd Lyceum of Paleo Faliro in 2014, and also that in 2013 he was a student of the second year of Lyceum, the same year as Demertzidis and Kambioti, but in a different class. Demertzidis and Kambioti were in the same class but after the incident they changed classes. Regarding Demertzidis, the witness did not believe he was politically active, and regarding Kambioti he said that he had noticed she had far-right leanings, something that he inferred from the incident involving Demertzidis, and from what happened to the witness himself, a little after Christmas of that year. He said that he saw Kambioti and her boyfriend, Apostolopoulos, spraying graffiti on a school wall, at around 21:00, drawing swastikas and writing fascist slogans in German. Apostolopoulos was probably a resident of the area, was about 20-21 years old at the time, and his appearance was a bit “off”. The next day Koursopoulos reprimanded Kambioti for the slogans, saying that it wasn’t right, and she seemed to ignore him. By morning most of the slogans had been painted over, probably by the principal, but they were still discernible under the fresh paint. After school he saw in the park across the school Kambioti and Apostolopoulos along with another 4 persons (who weren’t students of the school), who had shaved heads, and one of them was wearing strange eyeglasses and a weird jacket, and they were all looking at him in a hostile manner. At that moment he realized the gravity of the situation, and in the afternoon he phoned Kambioti to tell her he wanted to meet and apologize to her. She was alone in the park but after 10 minutes Apostolopoulos and five others showed up and started shoving him and telling him “Let’s go this way” and “What are you? Are you antifascist?” It was then that he understood that they were fascists. Apostolopoulos took out a knife and told him, “Don’t play with the madness of just anyone”. Kambioti then intervened and told Apostolopoulos to leave Koursopoulos alone, because he had apologized to her.
Responding to questions by the state prosecutor the witness stated that Kambioti did not have much to do with Demertzidis and that Foivos was a good kid that never bothered her. Concerning the incident he said that even though he doesn’t speak German, he supposed that German slogans next to swastikas can only be fascist slogans. It wasn’t him that mentioned the incident to the principal, and he hesitated to make an official complaint to the police, but after the incident involving Demertzidis, and after his mother’s insistence, he thought he had a duty to do so. Concerning the reasons that lead Apostolopoulos to attack Demertzidis, the witness said the following: “Demertzidis said that he also didn’t know [the reason], he could only guess. Foivos wouldn’t hurt a fly. You can’t just murder someone that wouldn’t hurt a fly. In school I saw fights break out even weak kids. You can see the same in the society at large. Foivos wasn’t weak but this means nothing”.
B. Examination of the witness by the civil action counsels
Responding to questions by civil action counsel Zotos the witness stated that he hadn’t seen Kambioti go to the park alone, but would sometimes hang around there in the company of Apostolopoulos, and as for the motive of the incident against his person, he said he attributes it to the political part of his rebuke against Kambioti, and to the comments themselves. He testified that apart from a very brief and probably “trivial” fling between Demertzidis and Kambioti in the third year of high school, their contact had nothing amorous to it. A little before the incident took place, Kambioti had drawn swastikas on her desk and Demertzidis had told her to be careful.
Regarding Apostolopoulos the witness testified that he doesn’t know for sure if he is connected to Golden Dawn, but he is surely connected to Nazism, and that in the trials the witness wouldn’t even look at him because he was still afraid of him. Responding to a question by civil action Kabagiannis about whether he talked to his classmates about the incident with Foivos, the witness stated: “Yes. Everyone at school was scared and they’re afraid to come and testify. They are afraid that the defendants [:of this trial] will later come to kill them. Their parents wouldn’t let them. I have discussed the matter and they’re afraid to come forward. At the first trial only one person came to testify”. Responding to a question by civil action counsel Zafeiriou about why he didn’t go to the principal to report the incident, the witness said: “I’m still afraid today. I want justice. Even now at the witness stand I feel afraid. The person that attacked me is out on parole”. He also testified that the people he saw in the park had the same features as the Golden Dawn groups he’s seen on TV: “The body language, the jacket, the hair, everything. The way they look at you, most of them have a kind of deadness in their eyes”.
Defense counsel Stratis asked if the Nazi leanings that the witness mentioned had been evident in any way outside the house of Demertzidis, and that witness answered that after the incident, they wrote “GD” on the doorbell of Foivos house, and also “You’re dead”, and he [:Foivos] received threatening phone calls from people that were saying to him “We’ll kill you” etc. The witness also believes that the motive against him was political rather than personal because he is also against fascism without making a big deal out of it in the 15-member school committee or anywhere else. But he was threatened, as he said, after he reprimanded Kambioti.
Responding to questions by defense counsel Tzellis, whether he knows of any other Golden Dawn attacks, the witness said “I know about Fyssas, which shed light and something is finally happening so that things won’t go on so thoughtlessly. I’ve also heard about the criminal activities of Golden Dawn MPs, that they are connected to the drug trade and other similar dealings”, a comment that caused the defense to erupt in protest. The presiding judge intervened and called for a short recess until things in the courtroom calmed down. When the court reconvened, and responding to a question by defense counsel Tzellis about what is it that the witness is afraid of, the witness answered: “For quite some time I’ve been hearing about attacks, and nothing has been done, and this leads me to think that these people have a sort of immunity”. Responding to a question by defense counsel Papadopoulou about what would have happened if the witness had said to Apostolopoulos that he was a leftist and an antifascist, he said: “I couldn’t. They would have killed me”.
Defense counsel Aggeletos then asked him to describe the Celtic cross, and the same counsel asked the witness if he knows that cemeteries in Ireland have depictions of the Celtic cross. Defense counsel Papadellis insisted on asking the witness about the fear that he felt, repeating questions that the witness had already answered (the registrar read the record to confirm it) as well as the political motive and when the witness refrained from answering again, the counsel told the witness “Don’t tell me ‘I’ve already responded to the question’ to what you have been told to say”. Defense counsel Michalolias mocked the fact that the witness didn’t go through the university entrance exams because of his fear and asked him about his grades, a question that the presiding judge did not allow.
When defense counsel Roussopoulos asked the witness whether the jacket that Apostolopoulos was wearing was of the kind called “flying”, the witness once more refrained from answering, and tension rose between Roussopoulos and the witness, with the former telling the latter “I won’t have it. You will learn respect. Cheek won’t pass here”, causing civil action counsel Kabagiannis to react to the admonition of the presiding judge telling the witness to answer the question, by telling her: “Why should he, Your Honor? He has already answered the question. We can’t bring witnesses here to be terrorized by the defense. As a member of the court you are responsible for allowing the same questions to be posed over and over again, so that they create a climate of fear”. There was another short recess. Afterwards the testimony of Koursopoulos was concluded and witness Damianopoulou Eleni, the principal of the school at the time the incident took place, was called to the stand.
ΙV. Examination of witness Damianopoulou Eleni
The witness stated that she is a teacher and that in 2013 she was a principal at the 3rd Lyceum of Paleo Faliro. She said that before the incident took place Kambioti’s mother had come to the school and had told her that she was afraid for her daughter, that the kid was in trouble, and she asked the witness to keep an eye out for her. At that period the witness was erasing Golden Dawn slogans every day from the school walls, but had no reason to believe they were written by kids from the school. Concerning the incident, the school guard called her and she saw Demertzidis bleeding. She called an ambulance and took him to the hospital Iatriko Kentro after notifying his father. Demertzidis told her that he saw who had attacked him, but he didn’t want to tell her who it was and she didn’t press him. Later some of the students told her to ask Christiana [who did not come to testify due to a grave health problem], who told her about two persons that had run with flushed faces and gotten in a white-grey Smart. The students identified the car as belonging to Apostolopoulos. The witness heard from the students that Apostolopoulos was a Golden Dawner. The witness then called Kambioti to her office, who told her that it couldn’t have been him. It was there that she heard Apostolopoulos’ name for the first time, as well as the fact that he was a member of Golden Dawn.
Regarding the attack on Foivos, the witness thinks that the reason was hatred against anything that is different. If, according to them, Foivos was pressing Kambioti not to have anything to do with them, then this is what caused the whole thing. Not because of Kambioti, but because of his different political beliefs. Foivos, though, was not a member of any party, but a quiet, sensitive kid, with a wide range of interests. The witness said: “It was a difficult time. We were hearing about various things, assaults, and nothing was happening [:regarding arrests]”. This is what causes someone to commit a crime. At the time, I felt strongly that they could do anything they wanted, without repercussions. I believe that the students had misjudged the severity of the situation, that it wasn’t just empty talk”.
Responding to a question by the deputy state prosecutor she said that there were many incidents like this at the time in Paleo Faliro, including the stabbing of an immigrant, whose perpetrators were never caught. The witness had also seen Golden Dawn squads appear in the square of Nea Smyrni and hand out leaflets.
Responding to questions by the civil action the witness stated that the chief emotion of those slogans [:on the school walls] was hate, and she didn’t want the students to see that kind of thing first thing each morning when coming to school. “Because the schools can’t cultivate hate but solidarity. We know from history what the swastika, and blood, and honor, stand for”.
At this point the presiding judge adjourned for Thursday, March 8th, 2017, at 09:00, in the Women’s Wing of Korydallos Prison.