179th Hearing, Women’s Wing, Korydallos Prison, September 14th, 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
Present at the hearing was defendant Efstathios Boukouras.
The hearing commenced and concluded with the testimony of witness Ioannis Souliotis, a journalist working for the newspaper Kathimerini. The defense counsel for Mr. Boukouras motioned to let the witness testify not as a journalist, but under article 353 CCP, maintaining that he has waived his right of non-disclosure. The court reserved its judgment.
ΙV. Testimony of witness Ioannis Souliotis
The witness testified that he is a journalist, and has been working for Kathimerini since 2000, and that since 2009 he has been assigned to the crime division and the Ministry of Public Order division. Responding to questions by the presiding judge he said that he has given two preliminary testimonies, the first time in September 2013 responding to general questions, and the second in November of the same year, when he testified about a specific article he had written. He had written about the attacks on immigrants, among them an arson at a bar in Amerikis Square, for which two persons had been arrested, who had testified that they were members of Golden Dawn and had been found guilty.
The witness also referred to the arson of a mosque in Volos, the perpetrators of which had confessed to their connections with Golden Dawn. Apart from the cases under trial, the witness stated that he has written several articles about the relations between Golden Dawn and police officers, which showed that a number of policemen had some kind of connection to Golden Dawn, and they had appeared in front of the disciplinary board to explain their actions in some cases.
Responding to a question by the presiding judge the witness stated that the incidents of violence by Golden Dawn weren’t spontaneous and isolated, but obeyed a central plan. According to witness Souliotis, Golden Dawn is a very close-knit group and it is the organization that sets the framework of the attacks. The witness mentioned the cases of Pavlos Fyssas and the PAME members to point out that there exists a hierarchy that has mobilized, since it was proven that a series of phone calls mobilized a mechanism (i.e. the local chapter in Nikaia). The witness stressed that the attacks share common characteristics, such as the targets (immigrants or immigrant establishments), the area of activity (i.e. Agios Panteleimonas with militia-like patrols), the outnumbering of the victims, and the appearance of the assailants. The witness pointed out that Golden Dawn tried to broaden its base, targeting political opponents, such as the incidents in Meligalas or the attack on the PAME members, even though there had been previous attacks, such as an attack on an anarchist squat, whose perpetrators had been found guilty.
The witness spoke of blind obedience, since there are military orders, such as the time when he was present and he was ordered to stand up as Michaloliakos entered the room. He attributed military traits to Golden Dawn, by invoking the speeches given by its members, but also the ranks they formed in Meligalas.
Referring to Piraeus he said that the activity of Golden Dawn in that particular area is not a random event, believing that it is an area where financial interests clash. The attacks on the PAME members and the Egyptian fishermen had a broader scope, the control of certain types of economic activity. But in still other attacks (such as the ones in Volos or the arson in Amerikis Square), the perpetrators anticipated an economic gain, even if the motive was different. Returning to the matter of Piraeus, the witness stated that Golden Dawn seeked to control the unions that up to then had been controlled by KKE, something that was shown by the visit of members of Golden Dawn in the shipping yards a month before the attack, when a video that they uploaded on their website showed them saying “We’ll stamp out PAME”. It was also proven by the founding of an alternative union that would enjoy privileged relations with the shipping yard bosses.
Concerning the incidents of violence by Golden Dawn the witness maintained that there was an evolution as time passed and that they were activities that had been decided at a central level, such as the beating of a former member of Golden Dawn in Meligalas, which was the result of a broader strategy.
In Korinthos, Souliotis had been investigating the murder of Fyssas, because it was very near Athens and because of the incidents that had taken place there previously (an incident involving the mayor and a member of Golden Dawn, reactions to the opening of an immigrant detention center). His reporting centered on three incidents, first the attempt to scare Tatoulis about the opening of a quarry in the area, the attempt at arson against a resident of the town known about his antifascist activity, and the blackmail of a well-known local businessman, in order to hand over produce to Golden Dawn that it would then give away in food charities only for Greeks. He said that the name of defendant Boukouras had been mentioned about the incident involving the quarry, and the people that the witness talked with told him that everything that happened had the defendant’s approval.
Responding to questions by the state prosecutor concerning the connections between police officers and Golden Dawn, he said that he has seen with his own eyes members of Golden Dawn coming out from the ranks of policemen, since there was the sense of a common front in the streets, which had its basis in the fact that Golden Dawn never attacked the police. But even the Police itself decided to look into the matter only after Fyssas was killed.
Responding to questions from the assistant state prosecutor he said that violence is central to the culture of Golden Dawn, and mentioned close-knit groups of Golden Dawners which were formed to make patrols. Finally, he said that if the attacks in Korinthos had been approved by Boukouras, then it followed that they had been approved by the leadership of Golden Dawn.
The witness went on to respond to questions by the civil action counsels, saying that from what he knows from the police investigations, the attack on the PAME members had been planned in advance and took place under cover of night. He said that there is no other political party with Golden Dawn’s military traits.
The witness stated that most of Golden Dawn’s criminal activities fell under a central strategy, and responding to another question about whether Golden Dawn espouses Nazism, he stated by mentioning a video that shows Pappas teaching the Nazi salute and “Heil Hitler” to a child, and also to other articles written by members of Golden Dawn in the party newspaper, which show their admiration for Hitler.
The witness stated that the leader of Golden Dawn has assumed the political responsibility for the murder of Fyssas, and talked about the structure of Golden Dawn, saying that it is assured that no member can act without the knowledge and approval of the leadership. Given that Michaloliakos is the leader of Golden Dawn, which operates under a strict hierarchy, he bears the responsibility about the operation and activity of the party. About Fyssas the witness stated that from his exhaustive research he found that there was communication with the leadership, but not with Michaloliakos. He went on to say that the leader of the local chapter in Korinthos was Boukouras, in Ag. Panteleimonas it was Skordeli, and in Nikaia it was Patelis.
Concerning Roupakias, Souliotis said that despite the fact that Golden Dawn denied that he was a regular member, it was proven that he was a full member by the case file, and by videos from Meligalas and Dervenakia. But, he said, the attack on the PAME members had utilized a similar mode of communication, a coordination of this specific attack. Concerning Boukouras, the witness said that he wasn’t a mere supporter, given that he was an elected MP for Golden Dawn. The witness pointed out that the attacks shared a few traits, such as the equipment, the appearance, and the military structure.
The witness maintained that the Ministry of Public Order and the Police mobilized after the murder of Fyssas, and that before it was left to each police precinct to deal with the problem on its own, such as the arson of the Cointreau bar. The witness said that the leadership of the police did nothing to deter the murder of Fyssas, since Golden Dawn had never been a criminal sphere in the minds of a part of the police officers. According to Souliotis, the entry of Golden Dawn to parliament multiplied its criminal activities, because they felt that they had the approval of the electorate.
He also said that Germenis played an active role in the beating of Chamos in Meligalas, who was a former member of Golden Dawn, as it was shown. Finally, he said that his research has shown that the percentage of Golden Dawn were increased in the electoral divisions of police officers.
He went on to respond to questions by the defense counsels and said that Golden Dawn denied that the perpetrators had been members of the party, a blatant lie, since the arrested had already said so. He stated that Fyssas became a target of Golden Dawn because he was an antifascist. He stated that he told the investigators during the preliminary testimonies what he knew as a journalist, not as an eyewitness, and refrained from mentioning the name of the businessman that had been blackmailed. He also said that the defendants in Volos had admitted that they were the perpetrators and members of Golden Dawn, and according to the witness it can be conjectured that they were following orders. Responding to another question the witness stated that the activities he investigates are always negative, since he covers the crime division, and not the community activities.