158th Hearing, Court of Appeals, May 30th, 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. There was increased attendance by the public and members of the press, and higher levels of police officers than usual outside the Court of Appeals.
II. Presence of defendants
None of the defendants was present at the hearing.
ΙΙΙ. Testimony of witness D. Zambelis continues
A. Examination of the witness by the civil action counsels
The witness answered, in turn, to questions by civil action counsels Stratis, Sapountzaki, Antanasiotis, Kabagiannis, and Papadaki. The witness stated that the threat “We will kill you” that was written in the dust on his car aimed to instill fear in him, and that the group that attacked him looked like an assault squad. He also mentioned the assault by members of Golden Dawn in the shipping yards in Perama, saying that Golden Dawn also targets union organizers, that it does not serve the rights of the people, as they claim, but the capitalists’. Responding to a relevant question, he said that the Golden Dawners that attacked him had been annoyed by the verses of Kabanellis, which were political in nature, and the music of a leftist composer, [Mikis] Theodorakis. Responding to a relevant question, the witness testified that the person that hit him could simply not have come down for identification, and the witness also said that he was well known in the Golden Dawn offices for his union work.
B. Examination of the witness by the defense counsels
The witness was questioned in turn by defense counsels Evaggelidou, Tsagas, Michalolias G., Mammi, and Papadeli. Responding to a relevant question he stated that Germenis wasn’t aggressive towards him or the policemen, that he believes that Germenis had full knowledge of the incident before the police commander notified him and that in any case it’s not possible that an assault against his person by ten people had not been planned in some way. The witness also mentioned that he passed outside the local chapter of Golden Dawn every day, at least 3 times per day, since his house is next to the local chapter, but it was open only evenings. When he was asked why he did not go to the Police when he saw the messages scrawled on his car, he said that he didn’t know what was the correct procedure, and that in any case he would go on with his life and activity without fear. The presiding judge told the witness not to answer a question about whether, given the comments in his circle of acquaintances regarding the education of the average Golden Dawner, he believes that there’s any possibility that even one of the persons that beat him knew that the song was based on a poem by Kabanellis.
IV. Testimony of witness G. Kaminis [:Mayor of Athens]
A. Examination by the members of the court
Shortly before the start of the testimony of witness Kaminis, defense counsel Roussopoulos informed the court that the witness, prior to entering the courtroom, made some statements to the press against Golden Dawn, something that the defense counsel asked be noted down in the trial records. The witness testimony proceeded as normal with questions by the members of the court. The witness testified that he is the mayor of Athens since 2006, that he is a university professor and that he is in his second term as mayor. When asked about actual incidents, the witness testified that in May 2013, he was informed that Golden Dawn announced that it will organize a food handout only for Greeks in Syntagma Square. After communicating with then Minister of Public Safety, Nikos Dendias, the witness learned that they didn’t have the authorization to go through with the handout. The mayor issued an announcement that forbade the food handout, on the one hand because there was no permit and on the other because public spaces cannot be given for the use of events that are against human values, something that would of course be the case with the food handout “only for Greeks”. He added that Golden Dawn, if they wanted, could do the food handout in their offices, as they in fact did, since the food was distributed in Deligianni Street, near Komvos Allilovoitheias [:Solidarity Node, a charity organization of the Municipality of Athens] where the mayor was attacked.
Concerning this incident, with policemen present, the witness said that he saw Kasidiaris on TV reacting violently and threatening a police officer. Following this, as well as the incident in Komvos, Michaloliakos made a public announcement, advising the witness to not go out and about in Athens. The witness stated that, with Easter approaching, he conducted a visit in Komvos which had been planned to advance, in order to give presents to the children. The Golden Dawn offices are very near Komvos in Deligianni Street. As he was giving an egg and an Easter candle to a little girl, he realized that Germenis was attacking him, something which was detected by the men in his security detail and Germenis was taken away. As he tried to hit the witness, the hand of Germenis strayed and hit a little girl. The witness was later informed that Germenis came into the Komvos building by invoking his MP status. The men in the mayor’s security detail took him away and there is an image which shows that Germenis was carrying a gun. Furthermore, he was informed that a group of Golden Dawners carrying batons and clubs had come from the back but had been blocked from entering by the riot police unit, which had been notified that they are near the Golden Dawn offices and were there because of the previous announcement [:by Michaloliakos]. In the witness’s opinion this proves that there is an organized structure which plans and executes attacks against certain persons, and that if the police hadn’t been present the group of Golden Dawners would have surely entered Komvos.
Referring to another incident, the witness noted that in the first days after the elections of 2011, Nikos Michaloliakos had an argument with ANTARSYA’s member of the Athens municipal council, Petros Konstantinou, when he, Michaloliakos, got up and threw a Nazi salute. Golden Dawn had often called the witness “mayor of the illegals” in their paper, since it is well known that he does not discriminate between people on the basis of race, color, religion, etc. On the contrary, Skordeli, a member of Golden Dawn, who attended the municipal council, called immigrants “cockroaches”, in the troubled quarter of Agios Panteleimonas. Furthermore, Vouldis, Michaloliakos’ replacement in the municipal council, was noisome in one of the meetings and when asked to step outside, he challenged the witness to a physical fight, telling him “Come and take me out if you dare”. The witness also added that in order to show his scorn for the position of Golden Dawn, he stands up and goes out whenever Kasidiaris is speaking, since any conversation with them would mean even a minimal legitimization of Golden Dawn and its practices.
Concerning other incidents he is familiar with, he said that members of Golden Dawn evicted immigrants, in concert with landlords, and the same persons then were contracted to paint the apartments. He also talked about pogroms against immigrants orchestrated by Golden Dawn, which were conducted by Golden Dawn patrols, especially in the 4th and the 6th municipal districts, in which they beat up immigrants. In the aforementioned incidents he added the murder of Luqman, which was perpetrated by members of Golden Dawn, something that he knows from various testimonies and by conversations he had with the parents of the victim, which the witness met in order to express his sadness for the loss of their son. He also referred to the incident on television with Kasidiaris, Kanelli, and Dourou, as well as Meligalas, and more still, that might slip his mind at the moment, as he said. He added that there was a time that the incidents were very frequent, and then after the Fyssas murder, the violent incidents decreased in number and frequency, for obvious reasons. According to the witness, Golden Dawn has the air of the criminal underworld, and tries to instill fear, using a violence that originates in the organized violence that is a characteristic of the organization as a whole. Furthermore, and as regards the Municipality of Athens, the witness said that he tries to appease the citizenship, by organizing food handouts and keeping the city streets clean, and that it’s well known that the 4th and 6th municipal districts are Golden Dawn strongholds, since there are many immigrants there, and they avoid holding gatherings so as not to draw attention to themselves. The witness emphatically added that he should have been more active concerning the matter of assaults, and that he should have prompted the police to act, and he regrets that he didn’t do it sooner.
Responding to a relevant question, the witness answered that the position of the Municipality on the immigrant issue is that they should have all the rights recognized by the State according to international law and the Constitution. The State Ombudsman declared that the children should go to school irrespective of whether their parents are in the country legally or illegally. Regarding the food handouts, they are provided for free without any discrimination, because he believes that everyone is entitled to at least a plate of food.
Regarding the formation of a criminal organization, the witness said that he believes that there is grounds for such an accusation, that Golden Dawn has a distinct structure, that it has a leader and members, and that the structure reminds him of the assault squads of Nazi Germany. Concerning the term “Golden Dawn vanguard” he said that there are some people who say they aren’t members but who are clearly an undeclared vanguard of Golden Dawn. The witness added that everyone who is associated with Golden Dawn talk and act in ways that point to a common ideological origin and stance. Responding to a question by the deputy state prosecutor about the reason why the murder of Fyssas put a tamp on the incidents, the witness answered “Because they wanted to hide the fact they are a murderous organization”.
B. Examination of the witness by the civil action counsels
The witness responded in turn to the questions of civil action counsels Papadakis, Kabagiannis, Skarmeas, Papadopoulou, Tobatzoglou, Stratis, Zafeiriou, Malagaris, Antanasiotis, Vrettos, and Theodoropoulos. The witness stated that it’s not customary for such a large police force to be in the Komvos Allilovoithias, nor for entry to be restricted. When he was asked about the inadequate handling of the problem by the Police, the witness said that it is a complex matter, since on the one hand the operational readiness of the police has been somewhat compromised, as is the case of public administration in general, and on the other hand there is reasonable suspicion that there are groups of Golden Dawn supporters within the Police. Responding to a question about the evacuation of Villa Amalias [:a historic anarchist squat], and if it helped drive Golden Dawn to even more violent behavior, the witness answered that on the contrary, the evacuation showed that there is a state of law, and that the constitutional rule of law can still provide stability.
Concerning the murder of Kadari he noted that, under the leadership of Kasidiaris and probably Panagiotaros, a group of Golden Dawn members was holding rallies and raids in Athens for quite some time, committing acts of violence against immigrants. Referring to the Nazi salute of Michaloliakos, the witness said that it was done deliberately and methodically, so that it would be shown on TV and point to his Nazi ideology. This Nazi ideology is a central tenet of the organization, and nowhere is it shown that they have left it behind. The witness also testified that, during the pre-election campaign, he was informed that Panagiotaros said that “If we elect a member in the municipal council, we’ll clean up Viktoria Square, too”. The witness added that his opinion of Skordeli is that she’s a “systematically concerned citizen”, and that people of this category are often members of Golden Dawn that do not reveal their true colors.
Responding to a question about Golden Dawn accepting political responsibility [:for the murder of Fyssas], the witness said the following: “When you accept the political responsibility, the political coincides with the penal. ‘I accept the political responsibility’ means that ‘we as Golden Dawn have in some way caused this action’”. Concerning the incident with Dendias and Kasidiaris a few days before the witness’s testimony in court, the witness said that the perpetrator [:Kasidiaris, who slapped Dendias in Parliament] knew that the cameras were on him and chose to use violence in order to show that the organization still exists. Finally, when asked if there’s any reason to ask for ID during an act of solidarity, which is the Golden Dawn policy in food handouts, the witness stated: “It shows the way Golden Dawn sees solidarity. They don’t see it as a way to help people in need, but as a way to disdain non-Greeks”.
The presiding judge adjourned for Thursday, June 1st, 2017, at 09:00, in the Women’s Wing of Korydallos Prison.