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DAY 174: “THEY WERE EVEN TAKING THEM DOWN FROM THE BUSES AND BEATING THEM UP”

174th Hearing, Women’s Wing, Korydallos Prison, July 17th, 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 Ioannis Papadopoulos continues

A. Examination of the witness by the civil action counsels

The witness was questioned in turn by civil action counsels Sapountzakis, Theodoropoulos, Malagaris, Tzellis, Papadopoulou, Tobatzoglou, Kabagiannis, and Skarmeas.

The witness stated that Panagiotaros, when he said that he would organize a “pogrom” in Agios Panteleimonas as soon as he was elected in the municipal council, he meant that he would unleash a violent ethnic cleansing, such as the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany. More specifically, the people that would be persecuted would have different color, and Golden Dawn would remake the square into a “clean space”. The witness cleared up that a pogrom must be organized, it’s not a spontaneous decision.

The witness tried to contact Golden Dawn before his article was to be published. At the time spokesmen for Golden Dawn were saying that the media talk about them without including Golden Dawn in the conversation. The major daily newspaper Ta Nea sent him to the Golden Dawn headquarters in Deligianni Street during the repeat elections of 2012. The witness asked the guard in the entrance if he would be admitted and when the guard came back he told him “Go fuck yourself if you are from Ta Nea”. Two persons came to throw him out of the building without any permission to do so.

The witness noticed in May 2011 that racist attacks were on the rise, after the murder of Kantaris. Apart from various rallies in Athinas Avenue and the Varvakeio Market, he also mentioned the group of 20 Golden Dawners in Corinth led by [Golden Dawn MP] Boukouras: They were looking to kick the immigrants and, when the latter saw the Golden Dawners, according to Manavis, they jumped into the sea of their own accord. Concerning Boukouras, the witness stated that based on Boukouras’ own admission he had participated in the activities around Agios Panteleimonas, and that he had been brought in for questioning because he was holding a wooden bat and had probably clashed with riot police. The witness stated that he believes there was a connection between Panagiotaros and the youngsters that carried out the assault in the square of Agios Panteleimonas, when the resident’s car was damaged.

According to the witness, Golden Dawn had a distinct hierarchical structure, and for someone to become a member, he has to have a certain body type, and then signs a form which says whether he has fulfilled his military service obligations.

Concerning the events in Meligalas, the witness recounted a discussion between Tsakanikas and Develekos, who had talked about it: Tsakanikas was describing the incident to Develekos, who had not been present in Meligalas, how Germenis and Lagos knocked someone down etc. The man they assaulted was A. Chamos, as the witness recounted, because he was about to call “Periandros” [:the former right-hand man of Michaloliakos] to give a speech in Larissa, and relations between “Periandros” and Golden Dawn had been tense for some time.

According to the witness, Golden Dawn never reacted to his various articles, apart from his article about how Golden Dawn was trying to make inroads in the schools, whereupon they issued a press release which in many regards was groundless. Golden Dawn has a youth league of its own, as well as an official magazine and webpage devoted to it, called “Antepithesi”. Furthermore, in one of their posts online, Golden Dawn has mentioned that they were handing out leaflets outside schools. According to a front page article in Ta Nea, Golden Dawn had organized indoctrination classes to schoolchildren in a program they labeled “the molding of children”.

Concerning the murder of Pavlos Fyssas the witness talked about an interview that Dimou granted him in May 2015. According to the witness, on September 18th, 2013, Dimou received a text message from the Nikaia chapter of Golden Dawn, calling everyone who was in the area. He called Roupakias and asked him what was going on, but he didn’t tell him anything. He then called Patelis who told him to go immediately to the Nikaia chapter offices. He then saw members of Golden Dawn near the offices, who told him that they were on their way “to battle” and then Dimou told one of his friends: “Let’s go, these people are thugs, they are a gang”. Dimou told the witness that he didn’t follow the group and that he was not present when the murder was committed. A few days later he received threats by Golden Dawn members: They told him that Lagos wanted to see him, a meeting that in the end never took place. In the end he met with Tsakanikas in Agioi Anargyroi, where Tsakanikas threatened Dimou. Dimou claimed that Tsakanikas told him that “as far as Golden Dawn was concerned he didn’t even exist”, that it would be shown that he was the only one who had called Roupakias, and that Golden Dawn would appoint him a lawyer, that he would be tried as an instigator to murder, and that he would go to jail for 10-12 years.

He also told Dimou that this was necessary so that the Nikaia chapter would not be torn asunder, and that if he didn’t accept they would make his life a living hell. According to the witness, Dimou told him that he had gone to Golden Dawn to hand out food rations and to attend speeches. He had given up himself to the authorities and was afraid for his life. When he gave the interview he was no longer connected to Golden Dawn.

B. Examination of the witness by the defense counsels

The witness was questioned in turn by defense counsels Dimitrakopoulos, Tsagas, Zografos, Oplantzakis, Velentza, Michalolias N., Roussopoulos, and Alexiadis.

The witness explained that he drew all information contained in his article through eyewitness observation and interviews. According to the witness, one of the characteristics of racist attacks is that they are unprovoked and they are carried out based on the color of the victim’s skin.

According to the witness, the residents in the area were protesting about the immigrants’ squalid living conditions, because of public health concerns. He said that 8 or 10 people would rent a single apartment. Concerning the statement of an Albanian immigrant, which he had mentioned in one of his articles, it was made clear that the man didn’t want any persons of different color in the area. That man had said that he and his friends were white and “not like them”.

IV. Testimony of witness Konstantinos Papadopoulos

A. Examination of the witness by the members of the court

The witness testified that he is a pensioner of TEBE, a member of the Nikaia-Rentis municipal council since 2003 and that he has also run for mayor. At first he was a candidate with a group that was supported by KKE, which at some point became independent and then was supported by SYRIZA.

According to the witness, the Nikaia chapter of Golden Dawn were at Kaisareias Street, next to the local IRS building. He said that they closed down after the Fyssas murder. The Golden Dawners would gather every Tuesday and Thursday and would occupy the streets around the block. They parked their cars in the middle of the street and stationed eight people (two for each car) as a kind of guard, wearing the distinctive “uniform” of Golden Dawn (camo pants, motorcycle jackets, etc. and carried flagpoles with the flag removed). These persons would occasionally attack passersby.

Every Saturday the Golden Dawners would gather at the Agios Nikolaos Square near the town hall, bearing flags, poles, and shields. They formed ranks of two or three and would march in military fashion to and fro for about half an hour. They had a leader that was giving them orders – the witness had seen Kasidiaris a few times acting as the leader. In time, a motorized assault squad was formed, which started its route from the aforementioned Golden Dawn local chapter and ended it in Piraeus. The Golden Dawn assault squads were frequently stationed in specific places and attacked mainly Pakistanis. In 2012 they attacked a mosque in the area of Agia Triada, where they beat up the man responsible for its operation.

These incidents were routinely brought to the attention of the municipal council by the witness’s group and through it by KEERFA, the Movement to Deport Racism, and the Open School for Immigrants. The municipal council never dealt with these complaints. The witness had the impression that the Nikaia Police Precinct routinely avoided to take steps, because when the witness’s municipal party made a formal complaint they told them to press charges, and also routinely discouraged the immigrants from pressing charges by telling them that they would get into more trouble. The witness made the necessary steps through the official channels and, today, after everything that happened, feels that he should have done more.

The witness also described an assault on six of his comrades in April of 2013 -two of them were seriously injured- by a Golden Dawn assault squad, while they were putting up posters. His comrades did not press charges out of fear. The witness noted that the employee association of the Nikaia Hospital issued a press release denouncing the incident. The witness also talked about how a Golden Dawn assault squad had passed outside his home, and outside the home of one of the people that had put up posters, shouting slogans. The Golden Dawners’ goal was to show them that Golden Dawn knew where they lived.

According to the witness, the webpage of Golden Dawn had announced a food charity “only for Greeks” in Perivolaki [:a central square in Nikaia] in September 2013. The municipal council unanimously denounced the charity as racist. The council session in question took place just a few hours before the murder of Pavlos Fyssas.

The witness also talked about the presence of Golden Dawners in the street fruit markets of Aspra Chomata and Nikaia on Saturdays, who de facto forbade the presence of his own municipal party, KEERFA, the Movement Deport Racism etc. in the street fruit markets. According to the witness, a percentage of the fruit sellers were well disposed towards Golden Dawn, since the latter were “selling them protection”. Even mayor Ioakeimidis talked in an interview he gave to the radio station Sto Kokkino about “privileged relations” between Golden Dawn and the street fruit sellers.

Furthermore, the witness stated that the local branch of the IRS was next door to the local chapter of Golden Dawn. The employees there had at one point complained that they were harassed. The witness saw with his own eyes that a person wearing a bullet proof vest was standing in the entrance to the Golden Dawn offices and was holding a piece of paper asking everyone where they were going, like a security guard.

B. Examination of the witness by the civil action counsels

The witness was questioned in turn by civil action counsels Sapountzakis, Theodoropoulos, Vrettos, Malagaris, Papadopoulou, Tobatzoglou, Tzellis, Kabagiannis, and Skarmeas.

The witness said that the aforementioned assault against the people putting up posters took place because the posters called for an anti-junta gathering, something that annoyed the Golden Dawners. He also explained that Greeks in general were afraid to press charges, because they weren’t used to violent incidents such as these. There had been dozens of violent incidents and the relevant complaints that were directed to his municipal party, in order to forward them to the Nikaia-Rentis municipal council. And all of them were a central decision of Golden Dawn, not a local one.

C. Examination of the witness by the defense counsels

The witness was questioned in turn by defense counsels Dimitrakopoulos, Tsagas, Zografos, Velentza, and Oplantzakis.

The witness stated that his preliminary testimony was the first time he had participated in such a process and he believes that many of the things that he said were not included in the final document. Among them were specific mentions he made to assault squads. He then said that he had been bothered by the Golden Dawn food handout because it was grounded on racist motives. If it had taken place he would have reacted to it with the handing out of leaflets etc. The food handouts organized by the collectives he participates in are given based on what the person that is asking for the food says, and not on any formal inspections.

At this point the presiding judge adjourned for July 19th, 2017, in the Women’s Wing of Korydallos Prison, where the examination of witness K. Papadopoulos by the defense counsels is expected to conclude.