200th Hearing, Court of Appeals, November 15th, 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.
Before the hearing commenced, defense counsel Michalolias Giorgos submitted to the members of the court a written statement which informed them that he is no longer representing defendant Nikolaos Michos. Defense counsel Zografos stated that following a decision of his principal he will no longer participate in the examination of the witnesses. Any comments, political or not, by his principal which are made public and concern the trial do not necessarily fall under the counsel’s knowledge and do not reflect on the development of his defense strategy.
III. Testimony of protected witness C continues
A. Examination of the witness by the members of the court continues
The officer of the court and the officer of the state prosecutor’s office confirmed that the room contains just them and protected witness C, that the door is closed, and that the witness has no documents in front of him apart from a Bible. Before the defense counsels commenced their examination of the witness, the presiding judge asked him a few more questions to clarify some points of his testimony during the previous hearing. The witness stated that Abushelam is of Greek descent and that his father had emigrated to Russia and came back.
The witness stated that the last time he went to the local chapter was in September 2013, before the murder of Fyssas, and there were no further visits after that due to health problems that he wouldn’t go into, invoking medical confidentiality. He went on to say that the equipment used by the assault squads was not provided free of charge and this included bulletproof vests, but he had never seen a woman wearing a bulletproof vest. Responding to a relevant question, he said that only higher-ups in the party hierarchy (cell leaders, district leaders, MPs) could get someone into the assault squads, and the traits they were looking for were good physical condition and the absence of emotions. Most of the local chapters operated their own assault squads, but there were some chapters where the median age of the members did not allow it – Nikaia, however, had an assault squad comprising about 20 persons.
The witness had never seen a woman participating in an assault squad, but had seen them in motorized rallies or activities. The witness stated that he himself had never used a shield but he knows from others that they had done so in the Imia protest march, in the year that Metropolitan Christodoulos died, because they held a counter-demonstration and there were clashes in Stadiou Avenue. When asked by the assistant state prosecutor whether the witness would have stayed in Golden Dawn if they had murdered an immigrant, and not a Greek like Fyssas, the witness answered that it is likely but he couldn’t be sure.
C. Examination of the witness by the defense counsels
The witness responded to questions by defense counsels Kontovazenitis, Gavelas, Evaggelidou, Tsagas, Karydomatis, Velentza, Oplantzakis, Tsabazis, Tzebetzis, Roussopoulos, and Alexiadis.
When asked, the witness stated that he went of his own free will to the investigator’s office, that he didn’t meet with anyone else prior to this visit, and that he didn’t know about, nor did he invoke, the law that placed him under the witness protection program. He said that he had been an active member of Golden Dawn since 2006, and that he had a membership card which he didn’t show to the investigator.
The witness stated that he didn’t know what happened to the people he stabbed and that he had nothing to do with the murder of Fyssas. He also said that his parents did not change residence, that they didn’t know why he chose to move, neither did they know anything about the stabbings. Concerning the Fyssas case, the witness stated that the name of Fyssas was not heard in the local chapter, but they used to talk about him in private conversations and the witness was present when Patelis said “We’ll fuck that little shit” because they said that Fyssas was planning to harm some members of the local chapter. Present at this conversation about Fyssas, according to the witness, were Patelis, Tsakanikas, Roupakias, and Kazantzoglou.
Responding to a relevant question the witness stated that he has never been hospitalized in a mental facility, neither has he ever taken psychiatric medication without a prescription, and it’s not true that Patelis kicked him out for this reason. The witness then proceeded to describe the procedure that took place when he went to the investigator’s office, and said that there are photos of him participating both in motorized rallies and protest marches. He also said that he has been employed the whole time and that he went to Golden Dawn for ideological reasons.
Concerning Fyssas, the witness stated that he got the impression that he had been made a target, i.e. that they would either wound him or kill him. Concerning Kimonas Papadopoulos, the witness stated that he used to see him in his mother’s supplementary school, which closed down due to financial difficulties in 2007. Abushelam was in the Centaur group, along with others whom the witness does not recall. The membership fee was not optional and was about 15-20 euros.
The training they received was ideological Nazi indoctrination, and also body training when he was still a minor. Concerning the owner of the gym, he repeated once more that he was a bodybuilding trainer and also had a bakery, and also that the training didn’t take place every single day, but on some afternoons of the week and some weekends. Germenis was the trainer there, and the training sessions were attended by Lagos, Develekos, Papadopoulos, Abushelam, Marios, the Frog, and others.
When asked about the Kandaris murder the witness said that it took place in 2011 and that they immediately took to the streets starting from the Deligianni headquarters, and proceeded to describe the role of Germenis as “a coordinator”. He said that he was under the orders of Germenis, and that with them were Develekos, Pyrris, Zervas, and Kasidiaris along with his brother Alexis. Concerning Kostas “the Frog”, the witness stated that he met him before the Nikaia chapter was founded and that his nickname is probably due to his participation in the Special Forces Underwater Demolition Teams. The witness also said that he went to Vitsi in 2007 in the car of Papadopoulos, along with two of his friends, and that he went to Meligalas in 2012, and in Thermopylae in 2008.
The witness went on to say that many of Golden Dawn’s prominent members had dealings with other parties, and mentioned that Panagiotaros had been a candidate for LAOS in 2004, and that Papadopoulos had been a not very active member of New Democracy around 2000. Responding to a relevant question the witness stated that he searched on Youtube for “Killah P” and the results included the Zougla TV show as well as a few live performances. Concerning the Golden Dawn conferences, the witness said he recalls one in 2009, probably in Hotel Crystal, as well as one in the summer in the Army Park, but he made clear that he has never attended one. Concerning the Imia riots he said that the clashes started in the early afternoon and that the event had been scheduled for the evening.
Concerning the training near the shooting range, the witness stated that they were about 15-20 people, that they shot targets about 50 meters away, and that they shot 2-3 bullets each. Concerning the Golden Dawn newspaper, the witness said that not only did he distribute it, but that he bought it for himself and that in its pages they made announcements for various speeches and events.
When they asked the witness how he knows about the incidents in Perama, he responded that he heard himself the leader of the Perama chapter say “We fucked them up”. As a Golden Dawn security guard, the witness asked for an ID or membership card only from those he didn’t know personally. Coming back to the targeting of Pavlos Fyssas, he stated that he doesn’t know if there were personal differences involved, but he can say that Fyssas was in the Golden Dawn’s broader program, and that there was tension in that area between Golden Dawn and the ideological allies of Fyssas, whom the witness called “extreme left”.
Responding to the next question, the witness stated that Golden Dawn organized food charities and that he had participated in one of them in Syntagma in the summer of 2012 and in July in the Agios Nikolaos Square in Nikaia. The Southern Suburbs chapters opened in August 2012 and the official inauguration took place in October or November. The witness was a member of the Nikaia chapter from July 2012 up to the first 5 days of 2013. The witness also mentioned that he was in the closed cells of Nikaia but he didn’t have information about all the Golden Dawn activities, since those were known only to people that had access to all the closed cells. The witness added that he was in Golden Dawn for 10 years and that he never took money or kickbacks for the things he did.
Defense counsel Aggeletos stated that he was ideologically opposed to this examination and the rest of the defense counsels continued with their own questions.
The witness went on to state that his preliminary testimony ran to 9 pages, that he went to the investigator at about 4 in the afternoon, that the process started about 20 minutes later and that it took about 2-3 hours. When asked about additional information concerning the Fyssas murder, the witness stated that from what he heard after the fact, the incident took place in Panagi Tsaldari Avenue, that Olympiakos FC (probably) was playing a match with a French football club, that it was raining, and that the street was very lively, and the shops there full of people. Concerning the range of smoke bombs and flares, he said that they shoot straight for the first 300 or 400 meters, but they trained on them in the Vrahon Theatre where there was no danger of fire.
Concerning the good mental condition which was a prerequisite in order to be accepted in an assault squad, the witness said that mental health goes hand in hand with the behavior of a person. An unstable character can’t be trusted – he’s hard to fathom. When asked whether he supported his opinion not to attack Fyssas, the witness stated that he didn’t want to get involved in the matter since he just said what he thought, and also that Golden Dawn is not known for its democratic procedures or freedom of speech. The witness stated that he had heard about the attack on the PAME members and that the unionists in the Shipping Yards were targets. When asked once more about the death of Fyssas, the witness said that he feels guilty that he didn’t warn him when he was still alive, and that if he could turn back time, he would have done it for sure.
Responding to more questions the witness stated that after the football match between Greece and Albania in 2004, people had been injured and an Albanian man had been killed, and this is not a football club accident, since 20 people have convicted about similar incidents since 2003. In the same vein, the death of Fyssas can’t be attributed to an “unfortunate moment” since when you turn the knife in the wound, you do it in order to kill. The witness stated that Skordeli was running Panagiotaros’ store for a while and that Papavasileiou sold cocaine in the organization.
Concerning Plapoutas, the witness said that Plapoutas was a leading member of Golden Dawn. At some point he had a run-in with 40 anarchists in Patision Avenue. He hid in a shop, managed to defend himself, and then the police came and saved his hide. He went back to the Golden Dawn offices and asked to take some people and go back to Villa Amalias [:a famous anarchist squat at the time] to retaliate. The Leader refused and then Plapoutas started swearing at Golden Dawn saying “you’re gays, you’re filth”, he uploaded a few videos, threw away the things he had from Golden Dawn, and denounced it. These were recounted to the witness by Plapoutas himself, with whom the witness had contacts up to 2013.
The witness added that he was regularly employed but that his work hours were not steady. When asked about Abushelam’s mother, the witness said that he does know that she had been a candidate for New Democracy and that Abushelam’s father was of Arabic descent. When the witness was asked whether Roupakias’ mother was a driver for Samaras, the witness said that the only thing he knows about her was that she was a member of Political Spring [:Samaras erstwhile party]. The counsels then proceeded to question him about whether he did shoot with Halastras’ gun, and after insisting for a while the witness did admit that he has shot with this weapon.