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Day 209: The attacks were decided in the higher echelons of the organization

209th Hearing, Women’s Wing, Korydallos Prison, December 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. The courtroom’s seats today were filled with journalists and members of the public.

II. Presence of defendants

There were no defendants present in the courtroom today.

III. Witness testimony of Dimitris Kousouris

A. Examination of the witness by the court

The witness stated that he is a historian, a professor at the University of Vienna, and concerning Golden Dawn he had been a victim of an attack 19,5 years ago in front of the Evelpidon Courthouse, when he and two of his friends were attacked by Antonis Androutsopoulos and another 8-10 people. The verdict ruled that it was attempted murder and Androutsopoulos was sentenced to 21 years in prison. The witness testified that he was the target of a group that attacked him as a member of EFEE, because at the time he was participating in various actions against the law passed by minister Arsenis, and that the attack took place at the end of a protest for the arrest of some teachers. According to the witness, Androutsopoulos was the commander of the assault squads and a member of the Golden Dawn political council.

The witness’s friends were also attacked but had line of sight on the group that came straight towards them, describing them as muscular men with short-cropped hair, armed with wooden clubs, who came marching quickly, while the witness saw someone pointing at him and say “That one”, and the attack lasted 1-2 minutes. According to the witness the group of Golden Dawners had not been there by accident, but had come to protest the trial of some members of the party.

The witness described one more incident of Golden Dawn’s activity, apart from those that are the object of this trial, the attack on Paris Chrysos near Polytechneio, around 2004, and also that, because he comes from Piraeus, he has information on the murder of Fyssas and the attack on the PAME members beyond what was reported in the media. The witness also stated that on the days following the attack, his family received anonymous threatening phone calls.
Responding to a relevant question, the witness sees a few common characteristics between the attack on his person and incidents such as the murder of Fyssas and the attack on the PAME members, such as the forming of an assault squad which then targets an ideological opponent or immigrant or union activist or musician, and that the attack starts with the isolation of the target in order to better be able to harm him. According to the witness, the scenario in every attack so far has been more or less the same: Choosing a target with a similar ideological direction and in a location and time that facilitates the harming of the target. The same method can be seen in the attack against the Egyptian fishermen and the murder of Fyssas.

The witness stated that this modus operandi has been shown to evolve over time, become more effective, since the witness was beaten with wooden clubs, whereas Fyssas was stabbed twice. The witness went on to testify that he had been targeted because he was active in the protest movement against the ASEP tests in 1998, he along with others were giving interviews, talks, and were active in the protest marches at the time, and that on the day of the attack the group didn’t come by chance, but the witness and his friends were singled out by Androutsopoulos who said “Beat them up”.

Concerning Androutsopoulos and his connection to Golden Dawn, the witness mentioned articles of Golden Dawn which stated that he was a member as well as articles in newspapers which published a conversation in which he admitted that he had received an order by Michaloliakos with a few other Golden Dawn members present, such as Panagiotaros. The witness also said that up until Androutsopoulos left the ranks of Golden Dawn, there were articles by Golden Dawn which said that his prosecution was a prosecution of the organization itself, and that he was still a member of the political council. Furthermore, Androutsopoulos, during his trial, had the military-style support of Golden Dawn members who rose up when he entered the courtroom and stood at attention.

The witness also testified that in the same way that the attack on his person had been premeditated and he was a target because he was a leading member of the protest movement, the summer before the attack on the PAME members there had been Golden Dawn MPs who appeared in the media and said that they would rid the shipping yards of PAME. Both the attack on his person and the attacks that Golden Dawn perpetrated afterwards were decided in the higher echelons of the organization, and in every case they send a message of panic and terror to the groups that the targets are part of, the opponents of Golden Dawn.

B. Examination of the witness by the civil action counsels

The witness was examined in turn by civil action counsels Kabagiannis, Skarmeas, Papadakis, Papadopoulou, Tzellis, Theodoropoulos, and Vrettos.

The witness stated that the attack on his person could under no circumstances be called a “clash”, as had been called at the time by the Minister of Public Order and that it was a cold-blooded, premeditated attack after he was targeted as the leader of a group, and in quite the same manner they attacked Poulikogiannis, as one of the leading union activists of PAME, and Fyssas as the more visible musician of the Antifa hip-hop scene, in order for Golden Dawn to send a message. According to the witness, the ideology of Golden Dawn is made manifest through specific actions. The witness stated that Golden Dawn is a Nazi, nationalist-socialist organization, who, based on its ideology, labels leftists, communists, immigrants, and minorities as its opponents.

Historically it has been shown that the activity and growth of Nazi groups is directly linked with violence against their political opponents. The organization is made stronger by increasing the tensions and organizing against its political opponents. Responding to a relevant question, the witness stated that neither he nor his two friends had any personal differences with their assailants, and that they had been targeted because of their role.

The witness also stated that a police bus which was stationed outside the courts left a few minutes after the attack. Concerning the eventual ousting of Androutsopoulos from the ranks of Golden Dawn, the witness stated that this is a frequent tactic of the organization, when a member is convicted of a crime, they denounce his or her actions in order to protect the organization.

Concerning the Police, the witness stated that it is well known that Golden Dawn has links with groups within the police and the fact that the Golden Dawners enjoy a kind of immunity has been proven by the murder of Fyssas, and also when Androutsopoulos left the country a report was published in the newspaper Ta Nea which said that the police couldn’t find him because of internal rifts.

Furthermore, he went on to state that the “Golden Eagles” was the first incarnation of the assault groups, organized by Androutsopoulos in the ‘90s. The operation of this kind of assault squads as a strike team is aligned with a NSDAP manual which developed and evolved their activities in 1931, and then the Nazi Party rose to power. The witness stated that Androutsopoulos was #2 in the organization and when he was evading arrest, he attended the funeral of [Junta dictator] Papadopoulos. Responding to another question, the witness stated that Golden Dawn uses various disparaging terms for immigrants, such as “cockroaches” and it is this dehumanization which allows its members to act. So as to remove any compunctions, which was what they did with Jews, whom they labelled figures, instead of people. “It is a process that has been studied extensively”, he said.

C. Examination of the witness by the defense counsels

The witness was examined in turn by defense counsels Tsagas, Oplantzakis, Velentza, Papadellis, Michalolias N., Alexiadis, Korantzopoulos, Pagoropoulos, Zografos, and Michalolias G.

Responding to a relevant question the witness stated that his political activities started during his school years, that he became a member of EFEE in 1996, and that before that neither him nor his friends had ever been attacked. He also stated that he has been living abroad since 2001, with a two-year break back in Greece. When Fyssas was murdered he was in Greece. Concerning the murder of Fyssas the witness stated that he knows that it took place in an avenue in the Amfiali area and that the police found in various Golden Dawn chapters wooden clubs, brass knuckles, weapons, and Nazi symbols, and they also found photos of Golden Dawn members holding guns.

Furthermore, he stated that the attack on the PAME members had been announced in advance by Golden Dawn MPs and was politically supported by those MPs. Concerning the attack on his person, the witness stated that the trial of the teachers he had gone to protest had just been scheduled, and that the group that attacked him arrived after only a few seconds.

Concerning the ideological targets of Golden and whether the teachers are its opponents, the witness stated that the organized union activity of workers has long been a stated target of Golden Dawn and Nazi parties in general, since they target first the organized union activity and also their ideological opponents who have a notion of how to develop such activities. He added that the official name of the nationalist-socialist party in Germany was “Nationalist Socialist and Labor party” and went on to say “the reason and the difference is that they used these terms in order to dismantle the unions in Germany which at the time had been controlled by the communist parties. Nazism hasn’t removed every mention of the worker identity. Their target was the organized union activity, and that’s why they tried to set up a new union in the yards, which could only operate if they present union was dismantled”. Responding to a relevant question, the witness stated that incendiary speech is speech in support of attacks, since this is what drives the assault squads.

IV. Testimony of witness Petros Konstantinou

A. Examination of the witness by the court

The witness stated that he is a company employee and a member of the Athens municipal council with ANTARSYA from 2010 up to 2014, and that he is a member of the Immigrant Integration Council. Concerning the attack on the Egyptian fishermen, the witness stated that what he knows comes from one of the Egyptians, Ahmed Mahmoud, who knew the people that were attacked, who described what had happened and gave a press conference as a member of the Egyptian community in which he said that this was an attack on a house where people were sleeping, and that the attack had been carried out by members of Golden Dawn who had come in great numbers riding motorbikes without hiding their faces.

The witness also described an incident that took place in January 2011, at an event in Amerikis Square that had been organized by the newspaper Worker’s Solidarity, where the site had been surrounded by fascists, among them Skordeli, and other members that let no one get out, and she held a bullhorn shouting “Get out leftists, you have no place in the neighborhood”. The people that were hit were immigrants but they didn’t press charges, because they knew from past experience that when they went to the police station to lodge a complaint they were arrested. Furthermore, in the police station of Agios Panteleimonas especially there had been reactions even against counsels, such as Kouniaki or Kourtovik, and the witness said that in one occasion the Athens Bar Association took great pains to take her out of there to safety.

According to the witness, the Immigrant Integration Council received many complaints by immigrants and the role of the IIC was to make suggestions to the municipal council for certain matters. These pertained to the “big” pogrom, as he called it, in Athens. The witness also stated that the number of attacks against immigrants compared to 2012 have dropped steeply following the murder of Fyssas, but many incidents have never been recorded.

Concerning the attitude of the police, the witness stated that initially it was very difficult for any victim to reach the stage of pressing charges. The police officers had even taken to saying to the victims to “go away”. There were other police stations that had similarly problematic behavior, such as the Akropoli and the Omonoia police station. The motive of the attack against the Egyptian fishermen, according to the witness, was that Golden Dawn wanted to control Perama and drive away the immigrants, and went on to say that this is what they said in the municipal council: “There are no immigrants, only illegal immigrants” and they believed that we should deport everybody.

Concerning the shared characteristics between attacks, the witness stated that they were very violent, they surrounded the victim and hit him or her with everything they had: Wooden clubs, kicks, knives. “These attacks were swift”, he said, “and there was someone who said: it’s over/we’re finished here/let’s go”. During the first phase, in 2010-2011, they didn’t wear a uniform, but in the second half of 2011 they started wearing a uniform whose purpose was to inspire terror. The witness added that Michaloliakos had come to the municipal council escorted by bodyguards who carried guns, on January 17th, 2011, and that in that same meeting they discussed the incidents in Agios Panteleimonas. Michaloliakos stood up and said “We’re leaving”, verbally attacked the witness and said “enjoy the Pakistanis whom you’re making Greek citizens” and when the witness told him that the municipal council was no place for fascist propaganda, he insulted him by calling him “a stooge” and made the Nazi salute three times, adding that they would continue to do what they were doing in Agios Panteleimonas.

B. Examination of the witness by the civil action counsels

The witness was examined only by civil action counsels Kabagiannis and Papadaki, because tensions rose in the courtroom and the hearing was adjourned.

Responding to a relevant question the witness discussed the links that Skordeli had with Golden Dawn and that at the time Golden Dawn campaigned to close down the mosques and tried to close down the shops of immigrants. According to the witness, Skordeli had said at the time that “if a family sees cockroaches in the house, they don’t run away, they exterminate them”, meaning that these people should be exterminated. That was what she tried to do in the attack against the Afghan men, for which she was convicted. The witness stated that he has been politically active since 1980 and the reason for the founding of KEERFA in 2009 was the rise in organized racist violence at the time. According to the witness, the motive behind the attacks is that Golden Dawn is a Nazi organization and that in their minds “political activity” is the targeting and the assault squads.

At this point the presiding judge adjourned for December 19th, 2017, in the Women’s Wing of Korydallos Prison.