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DAY 146: “THESE ACTIONS POINT TO A PARASTATE”

146th Hearing, Women’s Wing, Korydallos Prison, April 12th, 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, until all audience seats in the courtroom are filled. Few journalists and spectators showed up in court today, and there was the usual number of police officers.

 

ΙΙ. Presence of defendants

 

None of the defendants was present at the hearing.

 

III. Civil action counsel Zotos withdraws from his duties

 

Before the start of the hearing, civil action counsel Zotos took the floor and announced the following: “I regret to inform the court that due to health problems I cannot continue to participate in the trial. I am comforted by the fact that Mr. Papadakis and Mr. Kabagiannis will continue to do so and that my outstanding colleague, Mr. Skarmeas, will be the third counsel according to the current authorization. I would like to give public thanks to the Egyptian fishermen for granting me the honor to participate in a trial of such singular importance and to do my part for the institutional confrontation that defends our democratic liberties. Embarak, as well as the rest of the victims, did not become a victim because he did something, but because he is what each of us is. I want to thank my colleagues in the civil action for the cooperation and I will do everything in my power to continue to support their work.

 

The presiding judge, after giving her wishes to Mr. Zotos -along with the defense counsels- called witness Baoustanou to the witness stand.

 

IV. Testimony of witness Baoustanou

 

A. Examination by the members of the court

 

Responding to questions by the presiding judge, the witness testified that she is an employee of the municipality of Patras and that at the time of the incident she was working as a municipal policewoman in Missolonghi. On the day in question they had arranged to meet a colleague from the police force to assist them in an inspection of the street market permits, given that as municipal police they were not authorized to conduct identifications. During the inspection the municipal police asks for the vendors’ papers and check if they have paid the yearly fee for the use of public space. If they have no papers, they confiscate the wares and call the police. On the day in question the witness and her colleague were waiting for the police officer. They saw a group of around 20 people wearing black clothes, and some of the shirts were emblazoned on the back with the words “Golden Dawn”, while MP Barbaroussis was present too. 2-3 people came to them and introduced themselves by saying they were from Golden Dawn, and asked to escort the policemen in order to conduct the inspection with them. The witness answered that they conduct the inspection on their own with the assistance of the police and that they do not co-operate with any political party. Tensions mounted and people started gathering on the spot, along with residents from the surrounding area who said that they would go to check anyway because the inspections are not conducted correctly. At that time the police officer arrived, who proceeded to notify his superior officers.

 

The member of parliament then introduced himself and reiterated the demand. They told him that they will not co-operate with anyone, it wasn’t Golden Dawn that was the problem, no party would ever get to escort the inspection. About 10 people came and phoned the deputy mayor to inform him of their request, as well as that they had come from Golden Dawn. The municipal policemen did not proceed with their inspection, since it would be impossible to do so without the police officer, who had departed. The Municipality can conduct inspections, but is not authorized to confiscate wares, since they demand a whole other level of organization. When the police officer departed, people started shouting at the end of the street market, either things sympathetic to Golden Dawn such as “thank god you came”, “they came to drive away the illegals”, etc. or people that were critical or even frightened of Golden Dawn. The witness could not recall specific comments, but recalled that in any case tensions were mounting. The witness saw a few [:illegal] street vendors start to gather up their wares at the other end of the street market. She also said that she didn’t see any TV channels, but that same evening she saw a video on the internet. The witness also clarified that the request to allow Golden Dawn to escort the inspection was first put forth by the police officer in the personal guard of MP Barbaroussis, and then the MP himself came, who, after introducing himself, talked to them about the inspection. On the street she saw only carton boxes and small things scattered on the asphalt.

 

B. Examination of the witness by the civil action counsels

 

The witness was examined in turn by the civil action counsels Kabagiannis, Papadakis, Theodoropoulos, Zafeiriou, Vrettos, Papadopoulou, and Tobatzoglou. The witness stated that the guard that was escorting MP Barbaroussis invoked his status as police officer when he submitted the request to escort the inspection, but that did not change the Municipal Policemen’s refusal. The witness went on to confirm the presence of Golden Dawn in the street fruit market, when shown photographs by civil action counsel Kabagiannis, which show members of Golden Dawn kicking over stalls and wares. She also reported that in the course of their inspection they told them that Golden Dawn had already passed through and that the illegal street vendors had run away. Responding to a question about whether the witness knows if Makris (the police guard of the MP) participated in the following elections, she stated that she heard that he was on the ballot in the municipal elections in Aitoliko, but she doesn’t know which party’s. The witness testified that the man that asked her to participate in the inspection did so in his capacity as a Golden Dawn member, and that their intention was to participate because the inspections weren’t conducted in the appropriate manner by the policemen. She also said that the street market did not have a security guard and that she doesn’t know whether the police officer that left was ever considered for suspension. Based on the photographs, this is what happens when they proceed with a confiscation. The witness thinks that the Golden Dawners did not have personal differences with the illegal street vendors and, when asked, said that the inspection is a matter of the State. She also mentioned that she has heard on and off about similar Golden Dawn groups creating tension and beating up people, and referred to the case of Nea Makri and the Egyptian fishermen. She supposed that the goal of Golden Dawn was to drive away illegal immigrants, and when asked she said that the group was easily discerned and everyone could see that they were Golden Dawn.

 

C. Examination of the witness by the defense counsels

 

The witness was examined in turn by the defense counsels Korantzopoulou, Tsagas, Michalolias N., and Aggeletos and stated that no one complained that the group was violent, and that Mr. Makris approached them and introduced himself by saying “I’m a policeman, too” requesting to escort the municipal policemen in their inspection – to check, that is, if they conducted the inspection appropriately. The witness was asked whether during inspections they proceeded with confiscations or arrests, and she answered that they proceeded with confiscations, confirmations of infringement, and arrests. She also said that it was possible that there were illegal street vendors that left for a while until the inspection was completed, and then came back. Responding to another relevant question she stated that it seemed strange to her a group of citizens to come and complain about the fact that there were illegal street vendors that came back after the inspections. She also said, when asked, that she thinks that there were some street vendors in the inspection groups. She went on to clarify that confiscations were assisted by the police and garbage vans. In addition, when asked about whether some confiscations are not completed because the illegal street vendors gather their wares and leave quickly, she answered that this is one reason, and others are that garbage vans are not immediately available, and when illegal immigrants are involved, they usually run away.

 

V. Testimony of witness Papazisi

 

A.Examination by the members of the court

 

The witness stated that she is a retired high school teacher, she taught Greek language, and said that as regards the incident in the Missolonghi street market, she had gone to shop and was in the southern end of the market, where it usually starts. She heard shouting about 30 meters away, and when she went near, without getting too close, because she had no reason to and wanted to be at a safe distance, she saw people kicking over stalls. Later, when she asked what happened, they told her that Golden Dawn had come. She saw a group of people that was coming towards where she stood and did these things, kicking over stalls. They were coming towards her, kicking and swearing. The witness saw at least two stalls of street vendors get kicked over, while the street vendors were nowhere to be seen. She also saw their wares emptied on the street as they [:the Golden Dawners] overturned the stalls. She then went a bit further away, but saw a group of about ten people dressed in a similar fashion with black shirts and Golden Dawn insignia, which the witness characterized “a squad”, who passed in front of her in formation. They were in military formation, in ranks of two and said to everyone in the street market “don’t be afraid, we came for the others”. When asked, she answered that she learned later that Barbaroussis was the leader, but she didn’t see him give any orders. She saw him leading those that walked with him. She didn’t know his name up to then, she learned it afterwards, from various passers-by. As she said, she has seen him on candidate flyers, with his characteristic hair etc. She also added that as they were coming towards where she was standing they were shouting “this too and that too”, “shit here and shit over there”, “this one illegal, that one illegal too” etc., meaning the illegal street vendors. She had not seen the street vendors, who had been notified and left.

 

She went on with her testimony by saying: “I was bothered and told them who are you, by whose authorization do you take the law in your hands and do what you do?” I saw their insignia and understood that these people wanted to – I don’t want to say. You said earlier ‘Don’t be afraid, we won’t bother you’.” She added that she had an idea about the reason why they bothered the others. And that they told her, one of them, not the first one, who seemed to agree with the above, that they have come to get the illegal street vendors, and that those with permits need not be afraid. She told them that these actions point to a parastate, and that we all know what the parastate has done in Greece, for example the assassination of Lambrakis etc. They answered “Please, lady, we came here to do what the State won’t do”. Some of the other laughed at her and told her that she was from KOE (the Communist Organization of Greece) and a “Eurocommunist”, at which the witness responded that they are completely confused about historical matters. The witness went away as they were still proceeding with their task, and went to the police station because she didn’t see a policeman in the street market. She lodged a complaint at the police station. The witness mentioned that, as she was getting her car at the other end of the street market, she saw that the men had already reached that part, while at the northern end Barbaroussis was giving an interview to a TV crew. The TV crew can’t have come by accident, so the witness supposed that they had been notified in advance. Regarding the citizens’ reactions, the witness said that some said “Well done”, some went away, and a few others were simply looking on. She went on to add that when she went to the Police station, she testified the incident to the officer on duty. There she saw a man in plainclothes, who asked her what she wanted, and when the witness told him he asked her if she had a complaint form. It was Saturday, and she submitted the form on Monday, when she also communicated to the police, the municipal police, the state prosecutor, and also sent it to the deputy state prosecutor of the Supreme Court. Responding to a question by the presiding judge about why she chose to communicate her complaint to so many recipients, she said that initially she saw that the police was a bit indifferent (later they were very interested, indeed), and that because she was dismayed by the incident. She said that it wasn’t like when a union organizer comes, for example. It was an experience, something like a sacking by an invading force, and she got scared, awed that is, because things happened in front of her that we as a society can no longer control. She also mentioned that the officer on duty told her that there is a policeman on duty in the street market but the witness did not see him.

 

B. Examination of the witness by the civil action counsels

 

The witness was examined in turn by the civil action counsels Theodoropoulos, Zafeiriou, Antanasiotis, Vrettos, Kabagiannis, and Papadakis, and testified that it was certain that anyone that saw this group would have understood that it was a Golden Dawn group. Referring to the video, she said that she didn’t see it that same night, but a week later, when her children, who live abroad, sent it to her. When asked if she was afraid, she said that she was disturbed. She was not afraid, but they surprised and awed her. But she wasn’t afraid of them, that’s why she talked with them. While at the police station she got the impression that her complaint did not impress them, and it was not written down in the incidents record. A few days later a policewoman called her and told her to come and sign her official complaint. The policewoman said that it was their mistake. The policewoman was very courteous, and the witness went to sign the complaint or else the incident would not have been recorded and today we wouldn’t have any knowledge of it. When asked about similar such “squads” that she may have seen on TV, she mentioned the incident at the street market in Rafina. Regarding the goal of Golden Dawn on that day, she answered that “it was the strategy of a political party to make a show of strength and also to demonstrate that we are still upholding the law even when the state doesn’t. That, I think, was the objective of this show of strength”, and added that they also handed out leaflets. She also testified that when another similar incident took place a few days later, two members of Golden Dawn asked of a [:legal] street vendor her permit, as well as from other vendors next to her. The vendor that was asked for her permit, Foteini Foka, lodged an official complaint, and the perpetrators were tried and found guilty. She went on to say that, regarding the “experience”, she said that the destruction is not limited to the destruction of stalls. It is also vulgar to kick wares to the ground and crate tension. When asked why she went herself to the police station instead of calling, she said that in Missolonghi it’s easy to go everywhere and that no one in the police station told her that it was possible to make an oral complaint.

 

C. Examination of the witness by the defense counsels

 

The witness was examined in turn by defense counsels Korantzopoulou, Tsagas, Pantazi, Michalolias G., Roussopoulos, and Papadelli. She said that she had been teaching all subjects of the Greek language and when asked about her political involvement, she said that she was a leftist, that she had participated in ELME [:Greek Federation of Secondary Education State School Teachers], and that for the past ten years she has not been politically active. She stated that she did not know the illegal street vendors personally and that she composed the complaint and the notifications with the help of her husband. She said that she didn’t ask the assistance of any third party, because she didn’t want anyone else to get involved. She isn’t part of an institution, but a citizen, and believes that the society should have the reflexes to respond in such a way. As for the label “eurocommunist” she said that the words that she used might have reminded them of the Left, and concerning whether the group understood that she was politically opposite to them, she said that she doesn’t know and they should ask them. However, they responded verbally to her interjection. She also added that she didn’t see Baoustanou, or the policeman, probably because they were on the scene at different times. When asked if she remembers now the events better than she did then, she answered that she did nothing to jog her memory. She did see people kicking over the makeshift stalls and throwing the wares on the ground.

 

Tensions in the courtroom escalated after the use of the term “parastate”, something that led to the interruption of the witness examination and the subsequent adjournment of the trial.

 

At this point the presiding judge adjourned for Tuesday, April 25th, 2017, at 09:00, in the Women’s Wing of Korydallos Prison, to resume after the Orthodox Easter vacations.