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DAY 170: “IN ORGANIZATIONS SUCH AS THIS THERE IS A KIND OF OMERTA”

170th Hearing, Court of Appeals, July 6th, 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 limited attendance by the public, but significant presence of members of the press.

II. Presence and representation of the defendants

None of the defendants was present at the hearing.

ΙΙΙ. Proceedings

The hearing started with the conclusion of the testimony of witness Ioannis Baskakis. The hearing then continued with the witness testimony of Filippos Bamis, former mayor of Oichalia.

ΙV. Testimony of witness Ioannis Baskakis continues

Before she gave the floor over to the counsels the presiding judge pointed out that the witness is testifying as an eyewitness of the incidents in Pergamou and Agios Panteleimonas, and added that he came into contact with certain persons during his research, and that he has invoked the right of non-disclosure.

Responding to questions by the defense counsels, the witness stated that the reason for the interview with Rigas was the criminal activity of Golden Dawn. He pointed out that in organizations such as this (such as Golden Dawn) there is a kind of omerta [:vow of silence], and that it is normal for people who have left the ranks to talk about the things they have witnessed, things the witness has recorded. He also testified that responding to a relevant question Rigas said that the attacks are planned by the leader and his close circle. The witness stated that he has read books such as The Black Book of Golden Dawn and Golden Dawn Brought to Justice by Dimitris Psarras and also that he knows of the Golden Dawn memorandum of association referring to the [European] Memorandums from arelevant article. He invoked his right of non-disclosure and did not answer the question about who was the source of the sms messages that were exchanged between Develekos, Lagos, and Patelis, and maintained that he testified in the preliminary stage about the incidents in Veranzerou Street and Agios Panteleimonas, since he did not have access to the information that he has today. When asked what he thinks that omerta means, he said that some people choose to say what they’ve seen, and others don’t.

Civil action counsel Papadakis then asked to question the witness, because of no fault of his own and because of defense counsels Papadellis and Pantazi, the hearing process was delayed during the previous hearings, something that was denied by the state prosecutor. The presiding judge denied the aforementioned civil action counsel’s request to force the witness to bring to court all the information he has in his possession.

The aforementioned civil action counsel made a statement under the CCP concerning the motion of defense counsel Papadellis during the previous hearing to strike out the witness’s testimony under article 224 par. 2 of the CCP. Civil action counsel Papadakis motioned to overrrule the motion as groundless, since the right of non-disclosure is provided for in article 14 of the Constitution and article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as the international code of conduct and in article 7 of the statutes of the Journalists’ Union of Athens Daily Newspaper. He went on to say that even though the right of non-disclosure is not yet part of the relevant article of the witnesses’ professional secrecy (article 212 of the CCP) the decisions by the Supreme Court and other crimimal courts recognize it. He went on to say that the statement by Papadellis was made just for effect.

The witness stated that the witness testimony must be freely evaluated by the Court, and the defense counsels stated that journalists fall under the general article of the CCP concerning witnesses and therefore the court should not take into account the incidents that the witness talked about, of which he wasn’t an eyewitness.
The court reserved its judgment regarding the statement of civil action counsel Papadakis.

V. Testimony of witness Filippos Bamis

Responding to questions by the presiding judge, the witness stated that he was mayor of Oichalia between 2011 and 2014, without being a member of any party. Referring to the incidents during the commemoration of the Meligalas victims, he said that it has been organized for years by relatives of the victims without any problems. According to the witness, in 2013, and while he was giving his speech, saying that such events should not be repeated, someone from the audience interrupted him by saying “Mayor, I don’t agree, we shouldn’t forget what has happened”, and then panic ensued, with altercations between members of the audience, and some people came towards him, among them Panagiotaros, who wanted to speak. As he said, the witness stepped down from the podium, since there was no reason for him to go on, the event had been ruined. Responding to questions about the differences between his preliminary testimony and his testimony to the investigators, he attributed them to his confusion and emotional condition at the time.

He said that the Golden Dawners numbered about 50-60 people, wearing uniforms and holding flags, and that he didn’t notice them shouting any slogans. The witness stated that before the event MP Koukoutsis had visited him, and asked him to have the cross painted at the site, all expenses paid by Golden Dawn. However, this required work of such extent that it never came to pass. Responding to a question by the presiding judge the witness said that the voice from the audience that interrupted his speech might have been the cause of the incident.

When asked by the State Prosecutor how could he have such an altered view of the incident in his preliminary testimony, which was given two months after the incident, especially given that the witness is a lawyer himself, Bamis said that nothing else happened and that the police officers who were present did not even have to intervene. The witness also said that he is not certain who was the man that spoke up, but he was a local.

When the deputy state prosecutor asked him to explain the phrase “military unit” that the witness had used in his preliminary testimony, he said that the Golden Dawners were simply gathered all together in one spot.
Responding to questions by the civil action counsels the former mayor denied that Panagiotaros grabbed the mic he was holding, as the witness had initially testified, he denied that he had said that the Golden Dawners offended the memory of the fallen, and maintained that it was an event that ended in a civilized fashion. Responding to another question he said that he didn’t leave because he was afraid, but because there were altercations, but that the police was not involved. He maintained that he knew nothing about the activities of Golden Dawn, neither back then nor now, since he was dealing mainly with issues that had to do with his village.

The witness testified that it was the first time he heard the statement by Kasidiaris about his person who had said “You are an appointee of the traitor Samaras”. He also denied that he ever said in an interview he gave to ALPHA TV that no one should be allowed to harass and drive away the mayor. He said that people in the cafes were talking all day about an old man who had been driven off, and when the witness was shown photos the only person that he identified was Panagiotaros. Responding to questions about the mode of dress of Golden Dawners on that day he said it was uniform, and protested when the presiding judge pointed out to him what he had said in his initial testimony. He said that he didn’t follow the press coverage of the incident because he was very sad about the whole thing. Responding to a relevant question he said that anyone can request and obtain the records of the municipal council, such as Bellos, a candidate with Golden Dawn, who did, and who was also present at the event. The witness also claimed he didn’t know if a case file was opened in the Kalamata District Court, neither the contents of the statement issued by the municipal council.

Responding to questions by the defense counsels, Bamis said that he went to the Meligalas event every year when he was mayor, and said that many people gather there from all over Greece. He didn’t see any MPs from other parties in 2013, maybe only from New Democracy. The witness also maintained that it is natural for a group to come and honor the dead and that they didn’t bother anyone, but that he would have done nothing if he had noticed that Golden Dawn had come to cause trouble. Concerning Donas, a deputy mayor at the time, he said that he agreed to let Golden Dawn pay for maintenance work, and that there were no threats, everyone went home afterwards. Finally, he stated that he has never heard of any violent incidents in Messinia involving Golden Dawn.