219th Hearing, Court of Appeals, January 26th, 2018
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. There were few journalists and spectators today in court, and outside the courtroom there was a protest gathering of the United Antifascist Front.
II. Presence of defendants
None of the defendants was present at the hearing.
ΙΙΙ. Comments on the testimonies of the civil action witnesses
A. Comments by the civil action counsels
The following civil action counsels commented on the civil action witness testimonies: Kabagiannis, Skarmeas, Stratis, Malagaris, and Theodoropoulos, because the previous hearing was adjourned because the state prosecutor was feeling unwell.
Civil action counsel Kabagiannis, in his comments concerning the testimonies of 16 civil action witnesses, repeated the statements by Golden Dawn victims Abuzheed Embarak and the Egyptian fishermen, saying that the murderous attack sustained by Embarak and the fishermen was perpetrated by the criminal organization “Golden Dawn” by the five perpetrators that are defendants in this trial. Without a criminal murderous organization to support it, this attack would not have the characteristics it did: the racist delirium, the sense of immunity, the covered faces.
According to the counsel, the crime of participation in a criminal organization under article 187 CCP is not judged by the participation of each person but as a whole. The people themselves might come and go, but the organization remains active and has a stable ideology, a given activity, and a given modus operandi. The civil action counsel went on to discuss a series of attacks which were perpetrated by Golden Dawn and were mentioned in the testimonies of the witnesses.
The counsel specifically mentioned the 1996 attack on members of “Workers’ Solidarity”, the attack on Kousouris and two other members of NAR outside the Evelpidon Courthouse, the attack on the Marxist Bookshop, the attack on Chrysos and Tsibidou, noting that all the attacks shared common characteristics as enumerated by witness Garganas. Concerning the murderous assault on Kousouris, the civil action counsel commented that the modus operandi shows that Golden Dawn does not attack in anger or fury, since they waited for Kousouris and his friends to get away from their group, and a similar tactic was used in the murder of Fyssas, with a similarly skewed balance of power.
He also said that Golden Dawn initially claimed that they have no connection with the incidents, then they said that Androutsopoulos is persecuted for his ideology, targeting the judges on the case, and when he was proven guilty, Golden Dawn then claimed that indeed there was a group that disobeyed the orders by the leadership.
Concerning the attack in Perama, the counsel noted that the whole of Perama knew about the activity of Golden Dawn and that most of the residents were on the side of the Egyptian fishermen.Furthermore, the counsel stated that witness Thoidou showed that the blood donations only for Greeks were a sham of Golden Dawn, and that the purity of the blood lies at the core of Golden Dawn’s ideology.
Concerning the testimony of witness Takou, the counsel said that despite the fact that the political identity can be deduced by the organic relationship between prominent members of Golden Dawn, it must be made clear that the statistical measurement of Golden Dawn’s activity was scientifically sound and was based on interviews of victims who couldn’t go to the Police because they lacked residence permits. He also said that the testimony of witness Christopoulos, who among other things analyzed the institutional actions that took place as well as the actions by the Hellenic League for Human Rights, the first and oldest human rights organization in Greece, while Konstantinou laid bare the existence of a mechanism within Golden Dawn which would burn down a mosque, and finally the testimony of witness Kanellopoulou gave important information about the pogroms that Golden Dawn orchestrated in the center of Athens, especially after the murder of Kandaris and after the attack on the barber in Michail Voda street, as witness Tezaris said.
The counsel also said that the witnesses who are members of political parties noted a characteristic of Golden Dawn which is absent from other parties using incendiary speech, i.e. that Golden Dawn took action on what they said, contrary to what they claim in this courtroom – that they are being prosecuted because of their ideology. According to the counsel, Michaloliakos assumed the political responsibility for the murder of Fyssas, and thus admitted that Roupakias was not a random “passer-by” in Golden Dawn, since a party can’t assume the responsibility for the actions of a simple voter – the political responsibility exists only within the framework of Golden Dawn’s activity.
At this point defense counsel Michalolias Takis objected that the civil action counsel should not make assumptions about the responsibility of Michaloliakos, since the civil action has been barred from this part of the indictment, and according to the defense counsel Michaloliakos himself will personally appear in court to give extensive explanations.
Civil action counsel Skarmeas said that the 16 witnesses can be divided in three groups: The first group illustrated the continuity and activity of Golden Dawn, starting with witness Kousouris who spoke about an evolution in the organization’s modus operandi in the Fyssas murder and in the assault against Poulikogiannis, where the aforementioned persons were hit as frontrunners and representatives of Golden Dawn’s opponents, and at the same time the organization sent its message. The second group was comprised of MPs who were called to testify by PAME and confirmed that Golden Dawn uses assault squads both outside and inside the Parliament, in an attempt to make a show of strength to their supporters. Witness Margaritis, apart from being the eye-witness to the attack on a bus from members of Golden Dawn, stated that Golden Dawn has the well-documented reactions of every Nazi party, which at first denies any involvement and then tries to shift responsibility to the members lower in the hierarchy. The last group was comprised of scientific consultants who have studied the racist phenomenon and described the organization’s modus operandi, and claimed that at the core of the party lies a criminal organization.
Civil action counsel Stratis commented that the perpetrators become members of the criminal organization by blindly obeying the orders of the leadership, and from the moment they entered parliament there has been an increase in the attacks, as the witnesses have showed, in Parliament Golden Dawn scorned parliamentary democracy, using their parliamentary privileges to cover their actions, and the Nazi salute in the Athens municipal council shows that their ideology has remained the same, even if their speech has been “tamed”. The counsel mentioned a series of incidents such as the attack on Kousouris, the terrorizing of immigrants in the Agios Panteleimonas area, the attack in Amerikis Square, the harassment of lawyers in Agios Panteleimonas, the pogrom after the murder of Kandaris, the murder of Luqman, the arson in the offices of Workers’ Solidarity, the wounding of Patrikiou, the carving of a swastika on a girl’s arm in 1992, the attack on an immigrant on a bicycle as well as on a Pakistani, the attack on a paraolympics winner in the island of Chios, a pogrom in Michali Voda Street lead by Kasidiaris etc., all of which show that these attacks have definite racist characteristics, with a distinct identity of speech and action, aiming to disrupt worker activities and obliterate the political opponents.
The counsel also mentioned the by now well-known modus operandi and said that according to the testimony of witness Kousouris, it is necessary to dehumanize the opponent in order to pass into action. At the same time, as witness Christopoulos said, the racist message is not ashamed, neither does it hide. Quite the contrary, the leadership does not condemn the attacks, but instead rewards them. These incidents and these practices, according to the counsel, are not isolated incidents but are intrinsic to the activity of Golden Dawn.
Civil action counsel Malagaris said that since the beginning of this trial there is a concentrated effort to put into question the credibility of the witnesses that have so far testified incriminating evidence against Golden Dawn. However, according to the counsel, all the testimonies of the civil action witnesses were based on specific incidents that the witnesses experienced themselves and which have been confirmed by more evidence (documents, video, other witness testimonies etc.), and by speeches, conversations, and statements of the defendants themselves.
The witness testimonies confirmed that Golden Dawn is both against the memorandums and against the most impoverished worker classes (immigrants) and also against the unionists who are trying to counter the adverse consequences of the memorandums. Furthermore, the counsel focused on the basic question of who decided the attacks, noting that the attacks were part of the framework of a criminal organization even if the decision to specialize on the victims was planned and organized entirely by the perpetrators themselves. This is confirmed by the fact that the victims of the attacks were all enemies of Golden Dawn, and that the perpetrators did not have any previous personal differences, and the most important thing is that each time the perpetrators stated their political affiliation either verbally or through the symbols and logos on their clothes, proving in this way that it was the core of the organization that planned these attacks.
One last thing that proves the above is the stance of the leadership itself concerning the perpetrators and the victims, providing cover for the former and calling the latter “subhumans” and “orphans of Marx”, and there were times when the order was given directly, such as the attack on the PAME members which had been announced by Lagos and Michos a month before by alluding to specific union organizers inside the Perama Shipping Yards and calling them “the lackeys of KKE and PAME”. The same thing happened with the murder of Fyssas and the attack on the Egyptian fishermen.
Civil action counsel Theodoropoulos said that the comments that are made during a hearing of the trial is different when there is concrete evidence than when we have a process that drags on for so many months. The witnesses, according to the counsel, testify according to their own experience. Those whose knowledge comes from the media are treated with derision, but we should first examine if the source of their testimony is based on reality or not. Consequently, it all comes down to whether the testimonies reflect reality, and this will be shown during the documents phase. Furthermore, the counsel stated that witness Kousouris stated with the scars on his face and his historian status that Golden Dawn is an openly Nazi organization.
Concerning the attacks under deliberation, the counsel noted that the leadership itself confirms the paramilitary activity of the party, since violence is one of the main ways a Nazi organization increases its political power. Furthermore, the counsel focused on the charge of a criminal organization and that it shouldn’t be judged by whether the attack on the PAME members was ordered by the leadership but by sifting for evidence that would confirm the instigation of the crime. The charge of a criminal organization can he upheld even if the person who participate in each crime is not charged.
According to the counsel, the witnesses all confirmed that Golden Dawn differs from other political parties in that Golden Dawn has both the motive and the mechanism to put into action what they preach, and also provided more evidence to support the indictment. Among other things, the counsel referred to what we term a rhetoric of hate, which in the case of Golden Dawn means the use of phrases such “roaches”, “worms”, and “subhumans” in a system that using this hierarchy induces the dehumanization that was mentioned by witness Kousouris, and the slogans “Blood, Honor, Golden Dawn” incites in members the adoration and loyalty to the leader. The vocabulary used in their message is filled with such hate that if the citizen was swayed, then the violence of his reaction would be off the charts. This vocabulary lifts the inhibitions of some people.
The presiding judge adjourned for January 31st, 2018, in the Women’s Wing of Korydallos Prison.