162nd Hearing, Women’s Wing, Korydallos Prison, June 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, until all audience seats in the courtroom are filled. Few journalists and spectators showed up in court today.
II. Presence of defendants
None of the defendants was present at the hearing.
III. Testimony of witness Vassiliki Katrivanou
A. Examination by the members of the court
The witness stated that she is a psychotherapist specialized in conflict resolution. From June 2012 to May 2016 she was a member of parliament and head of the Human Rights Department of SYRIZA. As she said, from 2012 onwards, a large part of her parliamentary work had to do with incidents connected to the criminal activities of Golden Dawn. She investigated whether the data that was reported to her were valid, and was doing parliamentary control with questions and further actions towards the police. The answers she received were invariably that the investigations are proceeding, that everything are going well, etc. According to the witness, Golden Dawn enjoyed a kind of “immunity” until September 2013, when the climate changed and Golden Dawn activity was curtailed.
The witness mentioned a few cases that went to trial, such as the Luqman murder, the attempted murder of Kousouris by the second-in-command of Golden Dawn, “Periandros” Androutsopoulos –who testified that he received an order by Michaloliakos– and the attack on the Antipnoia squat.
The witness testified that on August 2012 a rally was organized by the president of the Pakistani Community Javed Aslan, P. Konstantinou of ANTARSYA (a member of the municipal council of Athens), etc. They wanted to deliver to Parliament a protest resolution to denounce racist violence. They asked the witness to help them by giving them some “point of access”. The witness took them to the office of Meimarakis, where the relevant document was registered as received. The witness and the aforementioned persons went out to the corridor and saw someone running towards them “like a raging bull”. The assailant grabbed Konstantinou, started hitting him, and insulted him by saying “Konstantinou you Pakistani-lover, go back to Pakistan so that Pakistanis can fuck you, you have no place here in Parliament”. Javed Aslan tried to intervene and was also hit by the assailant. The witness tried to intervene and the assailant raised his arm to punch her. It was then that 3-4 policemen that were present came to their help. The witness believes that the police officers didn’t know how to handle the assailant MP and intervened only because she herself was a MP. As the witness later learned, the assailant was Golden Dawn MP Koukoutsis. According to the witness, Koukoutsis attacked because he was shocked that he saw Konstantinou and a dark-skinned Pakistani walking around in the Parliament building. Koukoutsis, restrained by the police, insulted Aslan by saying “I’ll kill you” and to the witness “We know who you are, you’ll get what’s coming to you”, etc.
According to the witness “the incident shows the sense of impunity they had at the time, that they did these things in the Parliament yard in broad daylight. I can’t even begin to imagine what would have happened to an immigrant, in another place, at night…”. The witness sent a demarche to the President of the Greek Parliament and the incident was discussed in the Special Permanent Committee on Parliamentary Ethics. The Committee denounced the act of Koukoutsis, who then issued a press release that read: “I wish Katrivanou a speedy recovery, not because she was injured but because she hasn’t yet understood that things have changed and this is going to be the order of the day under Golden Dawn”. As the witness said, Konstantinou pressed charges and the case is pending trial. When the parliament debated the waive of parliamentary immunity of Koukoutsis, he denied that he did what he was being accused of and said that he felt threatened. When the witness took the floor she said that he was lying, that Koukoutsis not only didn’t apologize but said that he was very sorry that he didn’t manage to do what the witness accused him of, i.e. beat her up.
The witness also referred to the incidents between Kasidiaris and L. Kanelli, and –more recently– N. Dendias. She explained that the Golden Dawn MPs “create such incidents not because they are angry, but in order to show that they have the power to do whatever they want. […] They are creating violent incidents within the Parliament. That’s not random”.
The witness went on to mention the play Corpus Christi that was staged in Chytirio Theater in September 2012. The witness went to see the play with P. Tatsopoulos and M. Repousi, because she learned from her party that extreme religious groups and members of Golden Dawn had gathered outside the theater and created a climate of terror, by not letting the actors to go on stage and the audience to get into the theater. Golden Dawn thought that the play was blasphemous and at the same time wanted to cause violent incidents to show that they were in control of the center of Athens. When the witness reached the entrance to the theater, she saw Lagos, Panagiotaros, etc. leading the mob and tearing down posters, throwing rocks and terrorizing the people present, using their parliamentary immunity. Repousi was especially targeted, and received insults and was spit at. The show did not go ahead as planned, and riot police units arrived to drive back the gathered people. The witness described an incident involving Panagiotaros, who went into a riot police van and took out an man that had been arrested. According to the witness, a court later decreed that the play was not blasphemous. She also testified that it seems to her unthinkable that such a climate of impunity could have existed, and that having worked in many dangerous areas abroad, she has never felt such fear. She was driven to place iron bars over the windows of her house in the center of Athens, to protect herself against an eventual Golden Dawn attack.
The witness also mentioned a motorized rally that a group of anarchists organized in 2012 in the Agios Panteleimonas area, because “since 2010 Golden Dawn had been very active there, it was a lawless area”. 15 persons were arrested during the rally, and “the police used excessive violence, people got beaten badly”. The arrested persons were taken to GADA [:the Attica General Police Directorate]. The policemen were beating them up, and at the same time were shouting [:the Golden Dawn slogan] “Blood, Honor, Golden Dawn” and called the women “whores”. The witness, the MP A. Stabouli, and a forensic examiner saw the marks on the bodies of the arrested. The arrested pressed charges, even The Guardian wrote about the incident, and an official inquiry was launched.
When asked by the presiding judge what was the result of all these investigations, the witness said “they really had immunity back then. We had all these complaints and nothing was going forward. Mr. Dendias had a slew of case files shelved. […] And this is the greatest crime, that this situation was left to develop until a murder was committed”.
The witness recalled another incident that happened to her when she visited the Aliens Section in Petrou Ralli and heard policemen shouting to her “Blood, Honor, Golden Dawn”, but when she turned to look they had disappeared. According to her, they did it because they were connected to the party and because she was a MP.
Furthermore, the witness had been informed by I. Kourtovik, the advocate of the Tanzanian community, that members of Golden Dawn had burned down a bar called “Cointreau” in the Kypseli area. As they told her, when the victims, Tanzanians, went to the Police Station of Agios Panteleimonas to press charges, the victims found themselves to be the defendants, and the defendants were turned to accusers. The Tanzanians were told that they would be detained, in order to not press charges. Kourtovik didn’t want to leave through the back door, and was verbally assaulted on her way out.
The witness referred to a Coastal Guard document, whose reverse side had a printed poster of Golden Dawn, size A4. The poster “obviously showed that some people in the Coast Guard, that had access to this material, were members of Golden Dawn”. When asked, the relevant minister said that “this material did not exit, it was supposed to be burned, and nowhere was it shown that there was any connection between the Coastal Guard and Golden Dawn”.
The witness stated that in the Agios Panteleimonas area there were nights that the Golden Dawn assault squads beat up immigrants and trashed shops. No arrests were ever made. The Golden Dawners had even put a padlock on the gate of the Agios Panteleimonas playground, to keep out immigrant children. On October 4th, 2012, MP M. Kanellopoulou was verbally assaulted by members of Golden Dawn, who called her “whore”, etc. And all this because the area “had been left alone. In order to let them blow off steam”.
According to the witness, her party received a phone call by the owner of apartments in the center, which he rented to immigrants. Members of Golden Dawn detected these apartments, painted on the door swastikas to single them out, and then “beat up the resident immigrants”. As the witness said, “at the time there was a climate of terror and the general belief was that [if someone] went to the police nothing would come of it”.
According to the witness, “during the years 2010-2013 there was a plan, the criminal activities were organized, the MPs were causing and directing and heading them, in most of the cases. Which means there are organized assault squads. A logic of terrorizing and instilling fear is at work here. […] This is a criminal organization with a leader, assault squads, etc.”. The witness also said that the incidents in Agios Panteleimonas weren’t spontaneous, since there were Golden Dawn MPs present that were directing them. Their goal was to “bring down the democratic rule of law, and the extermination of every opponent, politician, gay, or alien. It is a Nazi organization. […] It is criminal because of its crimes, of its directives, of its modus operandi”.
The witness mentioned that AVGI newspaper had organized an event relevant to Golden Dawn, and the people that had participated were very afraid. As she said, “I haven’t felt like this since 1967, when I was born, in how we conduct politics, how we move in Parliament, or in the street. I remember getting some money from the Parliament ATM and I was listening to Koukoutsis behind me talk about ‘niggers’”.
B. Examination of the witness by the civil action counsels
The witness responded in turn to the questions of civil action counsels Papadopoulou, Tobatzoglou, Zafeiriou, Theodoropoulos, Vrettos, Malagaris, and Skarmeas.
The witness basically referred to what she had previously testified and clarified a few points. She was adamant in her claim that the defendants are Nazis, and gave reasons to support her opinion. She also testified that when the Parliament was debating the bill concerning life partners, when she took the floor, she heard Golden Dawn MPs calling her “slut” and “whore” – insults which show that Golden Dawn holds women in lower regard.
The witness referred to Michaloliakos assuming the political responsibility for the murder of Pavlos Fyssas – something that was not repeated in other incidents. The witness referred to the incidents that concerned the building of a mosque in Votanikos, the Barbaroussis-led assault in the Missolonghi street market, the funeral of Dertilis, the assault against the Egyptian fishermen and the members of PAME in Perama, and to the psychiatrist Paraschakis who provided firearm permits to members of Golden Dawn.
C. Examination of the witness by the defense counsels
The witness responded in turn to the questions of defense counsels Roussopoulos, Pantazis, Dimitrakopoulos, and Tsagas.
The witness mentioned the old Golden Dawn memorandum of association (hailing from the ‘80s), and the new one (approved by the Supreme Court in 2012). When asked about her 2015 statement in Parliament, that New Democracy had a far-right agenda, the witness answered “Yes, an agenda, not an activity”. The witness mentioned the presence of Boukouras in an immigrant hot spot in Korinthos [:that he created a climate of terror], the murder of Luqman [:that both murderers were members of Golden Dawn], the murder of Fyssas [:that it had been planned and that the outcome was not a random event].
It should be noted that right after the trial was adjourned the defense counsels told the witness: “You can’t just say what you want”, “This is a court of law, it’s not a parliamentary committee”, “Get out”, “Even SYRIZA couldn’t stand you”.
The presiding judge adjourned for June 13th, 2017, in the Court of Appeals, when the examination of the witness by the defense counsels is expected to be concluded.