130th Hearing, Court of Appeals, February 24th, 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 attendance from members of the press, reduced public attendance, and increased police presence in the courtroom.
II. Presence of defendants
None of the defendants was present at the hearing.
A. Comments on the witness testimonies
The presiding judge stipulated that the comments under article 358 CCP concerning the witness testimonies about the attack on “Synergeio” and “Antipnoia” will be heard after the examination of witness Seck Khadim, concerning the case of arson, grievous bodily harm, and property damage.
B. Motion to expel a civil action counsel from the courtroom
After the examination of witness Seck Khadim by the members of the court (as detailed in section IV), defense counsels G. Michalolias, Tsabatzi, Stavrianakis, Bouras, N. Michalolias, Alexiadis, and Papadellis, motioned to expel civil action counsel Kabagiannis under articles 234, 170, and 170§1 CCP. The aforementioned counsel had been the interpreter at witness Seck Khadim’s preliminary testimony as well as at a testimony in another trial. The state prosecutor supported the motion. Civil action counsels Kabagiannis, Zotos, and Papadakis presented their arguments about why the motion should be rejected. The presiding judge then asked of the defense counsels to submit a written motion. After a short recess, the written motion was read in court by defense counsel G. Michalolias. The civil action counsels Papadakis, Kabagiannis, and Zotos presented their arguments against the motion, and defense counsels Papadellis and G. Michalolias presented their arguments for the motion. The state prosecutor then reserved her judgment on the motion until the next hearing and the court was adjourned.
IV. Testimony of witness Seck Khadim (examination by the court)
Responding to questions by the presiding judge, the witness testified that he is an interpreter and that in May 2013 he was the proprietor of a mini-market in Kypseli. His friend Ciprien Amougou (also called Patrick) was operating a café-bar in Amerikis Square, which he was forced to close down. More specifically, the café-bar was burned down in May 2013.
Ciprien knew who the perpetrators were, because earlier, in 2012, they had threatened Rita Rachel Alemayu. The same witness had said that this is impermissible in a democratic country. They had reported the threat to the police, to no avail. The witness mentioned the names of Papageorgiou and Boletis, who -as he said- had told them “black people are bad luck for the neighborhood, they should get lost”.
On the day before the (first) incident at Ciprien’s bar in 2012, the witness was standing with his wife outside the establishment -he lives nearby, approximately 5 minutes away- and saw a number of white people chasing a number of black people. One of the chased men -a Congolese national- told him that the people chasing them had been racists. The next day the witness went to Ciprien’s establishment, who up to then had no trouble at all. The café-bar had been smashed by Nikos Papavasiliou, Georgios Peris, and many others. The police officers from the Agios Panteleimonas police precinct had arrested the aforementioned parties, but Ciprien did not press charges.
Then, in May 2013, Ciprien was once again threatened and told to close down his bar. The witness told him that they had no right to threaten him and that he should go to the police. Ciprien answered him that “it will come to nothing, the last time he had gone to the police, Panagiotaros, who was still a MP, had gone there, and they told him that if he pressed charges, they’d do the same, and they would come out, but he would stay in there”. At long last, they went to the police station, they testified, and Ciprien pressed charges.
That same evening, the witness along with Ciprien passed outside the latter’s café-bar in a taxi, and Ciprien was scared to go there, because he saw a crowd that had gathered outside it, which included the people the witness mentioned earlier. They went to the bar next door, called “Africa”. After some time, a girl that was speaking Ethiopian came to them and informed them that Ciprien’s bar had been burned down. The witness and Ciprien went there directly. The witness did not remember if it was them or the police that were the first on the scene. The café-bar had completely burned down.
A little while later Papavasiliou and Peris arrived on the scene and started asking what had happened, as if they didn’t know. According to the witness, “the people that threatened him and told him if you open it we’ll burn it down, the same people that had smashed it in the past, were the ones who did it. We didn’t see them, but we knew it, because they had made threats”. When Ciprien pressed charges and the aforementioned parties were arrested, those same people -Papavasiliou especially- told some journalists that they were the ones that had burned the bar down. According to the witness there is a video that contains the statement, and he has seen it. The witness had seen Papavasiliou at the aforementioned police station wearing a Golden Dawn t-shirt. It wasn’t a secret: The man himself had said so to the officer on duty. Responding to a question by the state prosecutor, the witness stated that the fire department said it had been an arson.
Responding to a question by the deputy state prosecutor, the witness testified that he saw a group of about twenty Greeks, some of whom were wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the Golden Dawn logo. Some of them were holding wooden clubs. This group was regularly going “on patrol” only to immigrant establishments. If they took a product from the shop, they said “we’re in our country so we don’t pay”.
These problems had been mentioned in a public discussion that was held in the area, where various Greek people had participated but no Golden Dawners. Responding to a question by the presiding judge the witness stated that he is the president of the African community in the area of Amerikis Square, responsible for about eight different nationalities (Ethiopia, Kameroon, etc.). This is why these people came to him with his problems and they tried together to find a solution. However, the Golden Dawners never came to talk to him, despite the fact that the witness made many attempts.
The aforementioned persons were the ones that burned down the shop of Suzanna, an African woman. As the witness said, “they are faceless, they just burn everything and leave”. When asked by the State Prosecutor if these establishments had women as sex workers, the witness said that he doesn’t know, however he stressed that these establishments were initially run by Greeks, then African people took them, and now they don’t exist, since they were destroyed [as Ciprien’s was], apart from a single one.
The presiding judge adjourned for February 28th, 2017, at the Court of Appeals, awaiting the state prosecutor’s judgment concerning the motion submitted by the defense counsels (detailed earlier in Section III).