163rd Hearing, Court of Appeals, June 13th, 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 were many spectators and members of the press in the courtroom.
II. Presence and representation of the defendants
None of the defendants was present at the hearing.
The hearing commenced with the deposition of the death certificate of defendant Boletis by civil action counsel Kabagiannis, which proved that the defendant passed away before the start of the current trial. Witness Vassiliki Katrivanou answered questions by the defense counsels, concluding her testimony. The hearing ended with the testimony of witness Athanasios Kourkoulas, a member of the Movement “Deport Racism”.
ΙV. Testimony of witness Vassiliki Katrivanou continues
A. Examination of the witness by the defense counsels
Responding to questions by the defense counsels, the witness maintained that the activities of Golden Dawn are put into effect by a leadership, and there is a permanence. She didn’t deny that there have been violent incidents committed by immigrants, however she stressed that this doesn’t mean that the assault squads can take the law into their own hands. She said that she is an advocate of human rights and that is the main characteristic of her activity. She repeated that in Chytirio Theater Maria Repousi was harassed, and a journalist for LIFO was attacked. Referring to the overthrow of the democratic order, she stressed that Michaloliakos has said that Golden Dawn is “the seed of the vanquished of 1945”, and cleared up that at the time it was the German Nazis in power, not EAM, which came in 1949, and referred to Kasidiaris as well, who used some phrases of Goebbels concerning the “democratic” overthrow of the rule of law.
According to the witness, the assuming of the political responsibility by Michaloliakos equals the assuming of the criminal responsibility, that is, the instigation of the crime. More specifically, Katrivanou supported that “Golden Dawn assumes via its leader the political responsibility and hence the crime”. Concerning the Fyssas murder she said that all that she knows she has learned from the media. Responding to another question she said that the members of the Tanzanian community had spotted in the groups of “concerned citizens” the persons that had destroyed their shops and participated in the assault squads. She repeated that Ms. Kourtovik, a lawyer, told her that when she got to the police station she saw the members of the Tanzanian community being treated as defendants and pressed to retract the charges and the declaration of identification of the assailants under pain of incarceration.
When asked if she issues a press release when there are violent incidents between immigrants, Ms. Katrivanou said that she issues press releases when there is a coordinated criminal activity, such as the assault squads of Golden Dawn. Referring to the attack of MP Koukoutsis against her person, she said that she saw him run towards her like a raging bull and that she intervened to stop the beating, and that she didn’t press charges to downplay the incident, however if the same thing happened today she would certainly press charges. When asked, she said that the Human Rights Group of SYRIZA received complaints either by immigrant spokesmen, or directly from members of the LGBT community, concerning assaults against their person.
Concerning the content of the “Corpus Christi” play, the witness said that it was considered blasphemous, however there were interim measures that contained a different decision. She went on to say that she was called as a witness to the trial of the Luqman murder in her capacity as a MP, given that she had witnessed other immigrants get attacked, attacks which were organized, and the assailants were uniformly dressed. Responding to a question about how her opinion about a centralized decision process for the criminal activity of Golden Dawn is connected to the decision 3022/213024/18-9-2012, signed by the General Secretary of Golden Dawn, which states that all activities must fall within the law, the witness once more referred to the statement by Michaloliakos, “We are the seed of the vanquished of 1945”. She stressed that the racist language of Golden Dawn goes beyond mere verbal assault, and she compared it to other parties with racist language, such as LAOS, since what Golden Dawn is primarily interested in is organized activity.
Concerning her presence in Chytirio, she repeated that she went there because there were complaints about human rights violations, and stressed that what is absurd isn’t the presence of Golden Dawn MPs, but that they terrorized the people present and they freed a man that had been arrested, which was done by Pappas. Responding to another question she said that Michaloliakos said that there was no criminal liability, however the witness believes this is an attempt at a cover-up.
When asked about similar actions by other members of Parliament, such as Tatsopoulos in a TV show, Katrivanou said that in those cases the other prerequisites for the formation of a criminal organization are not met, i.e. the organized activity both inside and outside Parliament, and the assault squads. The witness believes that the content of the Chytirio play was artistic, but Golden Dawn thought it was blasphemous and took advantage of it to spread fear. Concerning the blood donations only for Greeks, she said that they were being propagandized by Golden Dawn and that they constitute a political action.
Responding to a question about the content of the charges brought by P. Konstantinou against Koukoutsis, that according to defense counsel G. Michalolias comprise only the crime of slander, it was later cleared up by civil action counsel Papadakis that the rest of the charges (bodily harm, etc.) have been waived by a law passed in 2012.
Concerning the antifascist rally that led to the entry of the delegation (Konstantinou, Aslam) to the Parliament building, Katrivanou described it as well-attended and peaceful, and added that when it reached Amalias Avenue it was already dispersing. Concerning Koukoutsis, the witness said that he made threats, and continued with phone calls and insults on facebook.
According to the witness, the director of the Chytirio play also received death threats by Golden Dawn, and when she and other MPs arrived at the theater they were insulted by members of extremist religious groups and other persons. Then, they headed to the theater entrance, where Lagos, Pappas, and Panagiotaros were directing everything that was happening. They were holding the lock they had broken, and the former MP recognized some people she had seen in Parliament, namely some “guards” in plainclothes. She maintained that people felt fear, but there were policemen –in plainclothes– right next to them.
Concerning the Golden Dawn goal of the overthrow of the democratic order she said that there is a framework, a series of crimes, such as the murders of Fyssas and Luqman, the destruction of immigrant shops, the violence against antifascists, Roma, immigrants, and in general the violence against anyone who is different. The witness claimed that the violence is spreading and that it is a part of the Nazi ideology, as it has been exhibited in the pages of the Golden Dawn magazine, and in the statements of Kasidiaris and Michaloliakos.
Concerning Michaloliakos, the witness said that he incites his followers to violent actions and the overthrow of the democratic order with his statements about “the seed of the vanquished of 1945”, about clean hands and Nazi salutes, and also that he lauded Hitler in a magazine in 1987. Specifically, Ms. Katrivanou stressed that it was the actions that were the problem. It is the assault squads, such as the case of Luqman, when two or three people attacked an immigrant just because of the color of his skin.
In conclusion, the witness said that many violent incidents are committed by immigrants and Greeks. However, this does not legitimize the criminal activities of assault squads. She stressed that she disagrees with the criminal activities of Golden Dawn, and believes it is her duty to prevent them from ever happening again.
B. Testimony of witness Athanasios Kourkoulas
The witness stated that he is a teacher of informatics and a volunteer at the Sunday School for Immigrants in Kolonos. The school teaches the Greek language to refugees and immigrants, as well as gathering food for Greek and immigrant families, and other cultural activities. He stated that the school receives no financial aid, and that they are a part of the Movement “Deport Racism” (a non-profit organization), based in Agios Panteleimonas.
The witness testified about the incident that took place in the Imia anniversary in 2008, when Golden Dawn organized a rally in Kolokotroni square, and there was an antifascist rally in Klafthmonos square, since 4-5 in the afternoon. The Golden Dawners were guarding Kolokotroni square from the previous night, according to Kourkoulas, who invoked certain photos he saw on the internet. The witness stated that he was in Klafthmonos square, when an assault squad numbering 70-80 people, armed with crowbars and knives, came from Kolokotroni square towards Klafthmonos square. He was at the back and saw units of riot police coming towards them, moving parallel with some people wearing helmets that were in the middle of the street. The people that were gathered in Klafthmonos pulled back, however some people were hit, and one person was stabbed. The witness described the people wearing helmets as an assault squad, because they were holding wooden poles that they pretended they were holding to wave the Greek flag, they were wearing helmets to protect themselves, or even to hide their faces, most of them wore black, some wore shirts with the Golden Dawn logo, and they formed ranks. As Kourkoulas said, the people in the assault squads were running in formation, not helter skelter. In this particular incident, according to the witness, the police, about 30-40 meters before reaching the square, let the Golden Dawners do what they wanted. The witness said that it wasn’t a random occurrence, since it shows for the first time the decision by Golden Dawn to act in broad daylight, to do something that would attract publicity, aiming of course to send a message to its political opponents.
The witness described another incident he was present at, the attack against the Old Court of Appeals in Sokratous Street in 2009, where homeless immigrants from Africa had taken shelter for months. Following a rally in Omonoia on the afternoon of the same day, an assault squad led by Michaloliakos and Lagos left Omonoia, holding bats, shields, rocks, and stun grenades. The witness was inside the Old Court of Appeals and saw about 100 people behind the fence, most of which wore Golden Dawn shirts, who started throwing things. The witness saw Michaloliakos, who was right at the front wearing a suit without holding anything, and Lagos, but he saw Kasidiaris later in photographs of the incident. According to the witness, Michaloliakos was in full control of everything that was happening and was standing in front of the others. Lagos was in the middle of the group, and he wasn’t wearing a helmet. First they started beating their bats and then they started shouting slogans such as “Blood, Honor, Golden Dawn”, “Anarchists and Bolsheviks, this is not your land”, and “Immigrants get out of Greece”. They were throwing stun grenades, and they injured a photographer who was inside the building of the Old Court of Appeals, and it was then that the people that were in the building started throwing things, too. Some of the Golden Dawners started climbing the fence, and the riot police intervened, but, according to the witness, they did nothing to push back the Golden Dawners, despite the fact that in the previous days, the witness and other groups had petitioned GADA to prevent the Golden Dawn rally from reaching the building in Sokratous Street. The police not only did not obstruct the rally, but some of the assailants went around the back and injured a few immigrants that were sitting outside. According to Kourkoulas these two incidents exhibit a change in the methodology of Golden Dawn, from nocturnal attacks on political opponents to attacks in broad daylight against both immigrants and political opponents.
The witness then described an incident that took place in Agios Panteleimonas in Novemeber 2008. He spoke about Panagiotaros, who had a shop in the area selling knives and other similar products, and at the time he frequented the Cafe Pyles in the area, which was owned by the family of Rigas, a candidate of Golden Dawn in the Aitoloakarnania area. A group of “concerned citizens” had been formed, which first called a public meeting on November 24th, 2008, in the square of Agios Panteleimonas, because of the Afghan immigrants there. A detachment of Golden Dawners was there too, shouting slogans, and they destroyed the car of an Afghan immigrant in Alkiviadou Street, and what’s more they chased down and beat up a few immigrants and refugees. February 2009 saw the formation of a committee comprising various groups in Acharnes and Agios Panteleimonas –the Movement “Deport Racism” being among them– which aimed to inform the citizens that there were peaceful ways of resolving problems. In one of those events, on May 13th, 2009, a book presentation by an Albanian writer, which had been authorized by the Municipality of Athens, was broken up by 50 “concerned citizens”, among them Panagiotaros, Skordeli, Giannatos, and Papadaki. That same night these people put a padlock and a Greek flag on the playground, to prevent immigrants from going there. They insulted them, they harassed them, and they slapped a young woman. Fifteen days later, when Mr. Tasoulas entered the playground with his son, he was harassed by 30-40 people, and the father was transferred escorted by riot police to the police station, followed by a crowd, Panagiotaros and Skordeli among them, who were insulting him. The gathered crowd threw things at the police station. The witness then called Ms. Kourtovik, a lawyer, but in the end Mr. Tasoulas did not press charges, but when he came out of the police station he was once more harassed. Finally, the witness and the lawyer came out of the police station, after riot police threw tear gas to disperse the gathered crowd.
The presiding judge adjourned for Tuesday, June 20th, 2017, at 09:00, in the Women’s Wing of Korydallos Prison.