126th Hearing, Court of Appeals, February 10th, 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 significant public attendance, as well as members of the press present at the hearing.
II. Presence and representation of the defendants
No defendants were present at this hearing.
The hearing commenced with the witness testimony of Panagiotis Drimylis, concerning the attack on the alternative community center “Synergeio”, in Ilioupoli, in July 2013.
ΙV. Testimony of witness Drimylis
Responding to questions by members of the court the witness testified that he is a construction worker by profession, and that he is currently unemployed. In May of 2012 he had co-signed a renting lease on the basement space that “Synergeio” was housed in, which had a surface area of about 80 square meters and which cost 600 euros per month. It was legally created as a not-for-profit association on February 8th, 2013. The money for the rent was gathered mainly from the association’s activities, which commenced on June 2013 and included film screenings, open discussions, live concerts, lessons, puppetry performances etc. The weekly assembly was open to everyone, and the same held true for the center itself. When the center started its operations, an announcement was made to the effect that no one was excluded apart from those that ideologically seek to exclude others (racists, fascists, religious fundamentalists, sexists). There was no fixed representative, since each week a new one was voted, and if someone wanted to organize a particular event, this was arranged after a vote in the general assembly. Responding to a question by the presiding judge Drimylis stated that no one asked of the people that visited “Synergeio” to be ideologically pure, and in fact the creation of the space was the result of constitutional protest. He referred to another attack, this one with molotovs, that the was directed at the center in March 2013. The police looked into the matter, without finding the persons responsible. The community center, which was a well-known antifascist forum in Ilioupoli, issued an announcement which attributed it to far-right elements, but they did not make any express mention to Golden Dawn, since nothing had been proven.
Then, in Easter of 2013, during a very well-attended live music performance, a Golden Dawn moto demonstration of about 10 motorbikes passed in front of the space, whose riders were holding flagpoles, and were escorted by DIAS motorcycles. The center was in uproar given the climate after the 2012 elections, which Golden Dawn had taken advantage of to go out in the streets and start a campaign of terror. According to the witness their goal was to make their presence known, given that the people at the community center knew they were members of Golden Dawn.
Referring to the case currently on trial, he said that on July 10th, 2013, he was in the community center making the necessary preparations since he was the person responsible that day. An English lesson was scheduled, and the teacher and 8-9 kids soon arrived. At about 19:20 he received a phone call from a friend who was active in the antifascist movement of Ilioupoli and had a shop in Agiou Konstantinou Street. He informed him that a moto demonstration of about 50 motorbikes had just passed, going towards the center, where “Synergeio” was. He told him that many of them were holding flagpoles with flags wrapped around them and were shouting slogans such as “Blood, Honor, Golden Dawn”. The witness, scared as he was from the previous attacks by Golden Dawn, interrupted the English lesson and without providing further explanations started to herd the children outside. They heard the slogan “Blood, Honor, Golden Dawn” and heard the revving of motorbikes before they saw them. When the first motorbikes reached the community center he was outside the door with four children. The road at that point is narrow and the motorcycles had drawn close together. The riders that were holding wooden clubs started dismounting. Drimylis told the children to run. The demonstration continued and ended when they had completely surrounded the community center. About 15 people started hitting him with the clubs and kryptonite motorcycle locks. He fell down and was also hit in the foot. Some of them were wearing camo clothes and others shirts with the Golden Dawn initials, and some of them had their faces covered. According to the witness the attack did not last more than 2 minutes. They managed to hit only one of the children, and they got in the community center, which they completely destroyed. The rest of the children hid in the bathroom with the teacher and were protected.
The witness said that he didn’t go to the hospital because he felt that nothing was broken, and wanted to remain the center, which was the main target of the attack. The witness said that the motive of the attack was the intense antifascist activity of “Synergeio”.
Concerning the presence of policemen the witness stated that he was informed about it on the next day from the photos that the doctor Spiliotis had taken. These photos were taken from the balcony of the second floor, where the doctor has his practice, and the assailants started throwing rocks at him when they saw him taking photos.
The leader of the DIAS policemen that arrived on the scene five minutes after the attack noted down the license plate numbers given to them by the crowd of people that had gathered in support after the attack. The witness remained in “Synergeio” for about 2 hours, then he started feeling pain and left. About 150-200 people had gathered in solidarity, and among them were many prominent persons and associations of Ilioupoli (the construction workers union, the women’s association, the mayor of Ilioupoli). He said that he didn’t hear anyone giving orders, but he can conclude from the way they operated and the way they left, but from what the residents of the area said later, that the commanders of the attack were two Golden Dawn MPs, Lagos and Michos.
Concerning the behavior of the policemen, he said that it infuriated the gathered people, since it wasn’t clear whether they were acting as escorts, and for the witness the matter is not if there was involvement of the police, but if the attack was tolerated by them. The space closed its doors after a month and a half, not only for financial reasons, but because of the climate of fear no children or old people would come to the community center.
He made mention of a commando attack, organized by the leadership of Golden Dawn, given the way the party operates. He also stressed that the MPs that were present at the attack were not admonished by the party leadership, but in fact rewarded, since they were put up for reelection on the Golden Dawn ballot.
Responding to questions by the State Prosecutor the witness stated that he hadn’t received any personal threats, and that he believes that there are similarities with the attack on Antipnoia. Responding to further questions by the Assistant State Prosecutor he stated that the attack was “commando” in that they came, they attacked, and then left. According to the witness the assailants wanted to cause damage and for everyone to see, because for them this isn’t something that should be prosecuted, but normal behavior. He stressed that Golden Dawn is a cult-of-personality political party and so the attack could not be known only to those two MPs. He also referred to a video which shows [:Golden Dawn MP] Panagiotaros appearing in an event in February 2013, in front of some pamphlets handed out by the “Synergeio” community center, saying that this trash should be cleaned from Ilioupoli. He also spoke of similarities with the attack against PAME, since both of them featured a trap, and with the attack on “Resalto” [:another alternative community center] in Keratsini, as well as moto demonstrations in Argyroupoli and Elliniko.
He stressed that Golden Dawn is a fascist organization, and that’s why they were bothered by the antifascist activity of “Synergeio”. The witness also referred to Michaloliakos’ activities since 1987, something that caused the intense objection of the politician’s counsel, Michalolias. Responding to questions by the civil action counsels the witness stated that it would be impossible for him to have an estimate of the demonstration in its entirety, but he can say that it was comprised by men 20 to 50 years old.
He went on to say that the attack was carried out in the light of day, because for Golden Dawn this constitutes a political event. Their goal was to destroy the community center, so that everyone would see and be afraid, it wasn’t a murderous attack like the ones before it. Their goal was successful since “Synergeio” closed down shortly afterwards.
He stated that the moto demonstration started out from the Alimos chapter of Golden Dawn, as has been shown by the testimony of police officer Giannopoulos, it was attended by other leading members of Golden Dawn, such as Tsakanikas and Barekas, as can be seen in the recently published photographs in Efimerida ton Syntakton, and the witness also made mention to the text messages sent by Lagos before and after the attack, in which he says among other things “we came and we fucked them”, and then he himself goes and frees the persons arrested.
The witness also mentioned that from the license plates submitted from the residents of the area it came to light that the parliamentary car of Lagos was in the area. The witness maintained that Golden Dawn has a Nazi ideology, something which can be surmised from the speeches of Michaloliakos, but also the slogans and tattoos of its members.
When shown the photographs taken by doctor Spiliotis, the witness identified the scene of the attack, as well as [:prominent members of Golden Dawn] Michos, Barekas, and Tsakanikas, and said that the assailants wanted to cut them off. According to the witness the whole of society is a potential enemy of Golden Dawn’s Nazi ideology, because apart from their own “pure” selves, everybody else is an enemy.
Responding to questions from the defense counsels Drimylis said that people came out of the shops, they heard the slogans and noted down the license plates, which they then gave to the DIAS police officers. The witness mentioned that the center was never of an anarchist bent, but there were some anti-authoritarians, but it had no particular ideological direction, something it has in common with other centers of its kind.
He stated that he paid the rent along with another 30-40 persons, and the rent was covered in part from the income generated by the various activities and events organized in the center. He testified that he saw Michos the next day, in the photos he was shown, and also said that the demonstration alone was enough to instill fear, since in the past Golden Dawn had carried out attacks during which they were holding crowbars and chanting “Blood, Honor, Golden Dawn”. Finally, the defense wanted to question the witness about his connection to Marinos, but the court did not allow the questions as irrelevant to the case at hand.
The presiding judge adjourned for February 14th, 2017, at 09:00, in the Court of Appeals.