141st Hearing, Court of Appeals, March 30th, 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 increased public attendance, and there were many members of the press present at the hearing.

ΙΙ. Presence and representation of the defendants

None of the defendants was present at the hearing.

ΙΙΙ. Proceedings

The hearing commenced with the comments on the witness testimonies concerning the attacks on the community center “Synergeio” in Ilioupoli, the community center “Antipnoia” in Petralona, the attacks on immigrants and places of worship in Amerikis Square and in the area of Agios Panteleimonas, as well as the attack on the Pakistani immigrants in the village of Vainia, in Ierapetra.

ΙV. Comments by the civil action counsels concerning the witness testimonies

Civil action counsel Malagaris, referring to the “Synergeio” case, underlined the common characteristics that this particular attack shares with others, such as the prearranged meeting point, the mode of dress, and the motorcycle formation, which presupposes the notion of discipline. Furthermore, he stressed that the presence of MPs Lagos and Michos was proven by the photographs taken by the doctor, but also from the video of the motorcycle demonstration, and the license plates of the MP’s official car.

Concerning the attack on “Antipnoia”, the counsel said once more that there was a meeting point in Petrou Ralli Avenue, an agreed-on time of attack, and commands that signaled its start and finish. The counsel maintained that the charge of a criminal organization was proven, from the fact that the perpetrators introduced themselves with the words “Greetings from Golden Dawn”, from the reward given to Siatounis by being placed on the Golden Dawn ballot, and the support that Kasidiaris showed to him in court. Regarding the participation of Skordeli and other Golden Dawn members in the attacks, he pointed out that it is the acts themselves -and not the membership card- that is the crucial piece of evidence to judge whether someone participated in a criminal organization.

Commenting on the presence of Panagiotaros in the police station after the attacks in Amerikis Square, the counsel stressed that the MP didn’t go there as a pacifist, but as a supporter of the assault squad, and for the attack in Palaio Faliro he underscored that Golden Dawn stabs anyone that holds views different than their own, and for the Vainia case he stated that all evidence points to the discipline shown by the members of an assault squad. None of the witnesses said that the victims had personal differences with the assailants.

Civil action Papadakis then took the floor and, invoking the indictment, stated that the cases under deliberation contain the following: preparation for the attack, the actions of a group composed of many people – more numerous than the victims’ groups, speed, coordination, discipline, control, the statement of political identity, approval from the party leadership before and after the fact, and procedural immunity granted by the police.

Concerning the attack on “Synergeio”, police officer Gogoulos stated that they passed outside the police station shouting “Blood, Honor, Golden Dawn”, something that betrays a lack of fear of the police, and the counsel also drew attention to the fact that the witness was afraid to state his place of residence. Witness Tsafalopoulos, too, spoke of the target’s visibility, and he also identified a person who happens to be a Golden Dawn MP. Witness Drimylis illustrated the antifascist activity of the community center, and described for the court other characteristics of the attack, such as the choice of the time and the conditions of the attack, the violence, the time management, the coordination, as well as the approval from the party leadership before and after the fact, and the presence of the official car of a MP. Finally, civil action counsel Papadakis maintained that had the question concerning the owner of the car which was sent to the Greek Parliament by the investigative judge been answered, maybe the murder of Fyssas would have been avoided.

Referring to the attack on the “Antipnoia” community center, the civil action counsel repeated the characteristics it shares with the rest of the attacks that came up during the witness testimonies, such as the center’s visibility, the approval from the party leadership before and after the fact, by placing the participants in the Golden Dawn ballot, something that shows the division of roles, and pointed out that there are attacks that have gone unprosecuted, such as the one in Kolokotroni Square.

Concerning the attacks against immigrants he said that the testimony of Seck Khadim clearly illustrated the reasons for attacking immigrants in the center of Athens, and the testimony of the President of the Muslim Association showed that the attacks are far more numerous than the ones that are being deliberated in this trial.

Concerning the attack on the Pakistani immigrants in the village of Vainia, he stressed that the fact that the victims were imprisoned for a month creates a climate of fear and deters the victims from testifying. Finally, he stated that the witness testimonies have brought to light at least twenty attacks that have gone unprosecuted, something that multiplies the criminal activity [:of Golden Dawn].

Civil action counsel Papadopoulou then took the floor and stressed that, as was shown by the witness testimonies, the organization’s criminal activities weren’t localized, but took place countrywide. The attacks on “Antipnoia” and “Synergeio” were unprovoked, and they showed a clear division of roles, as well as the statement of political identity. Invoking the witness testimony of police officer Gogoulos concerning the motorcycle demonstration that ended at “Synergeio”, she stated that it points to a paramilitary organization. She stressed that the assailants wanted the victims to know in whose name the attack was carried out. She pointed out that the two centers are ideological opponents and enemies of Golden Dawn, and their members are active dissidents. She underscored the fact that a sense of immunity had gradually been given. Referring to the rest of the attacks she said that these aren’t crimes against a particular person, since the victims and the assailants in most of the attacks didn’t even know each other, but their objective is the terrorizing of immigrants and people of other religions. Golden Dawn’s policy proposal concerning the immigrants was to beat them up so they will leave, and true enough, some have left. According to the civil action counsel this was precisely their slogan in the elections of 2010, “to clean up Athens of all immigrants”. Finally, for the Palaio Faliro case, she stated that the student was stabbed during a time of fear, when anyone who spoke against Golden Dawn automatically became a target.

Civil action counsel Tobatzoglou referred to the degrees of violence implemented in each target, since in “Synergeio” they limited themselves to property damage, whereas in “Antipnoia” they went beyond property damage, and attempted to murder Miliarakis.

Finally, civil action counsel Zotos stated that once again we see organized attacks sanctioned by the leadership with clear objectives and methods. The method is the assault squads, which are groups of men that attack mostly under cover of darkness, are more numerous than their victims, and are armed. The victims are either immigrants or ideological opponents. As for the dissidents in “Synergeio”, the attack was carried out in an organized fashion by 50 people, and with the participation of other local chapters, such as the secretary of the Piraeus chapter and two MPs. They wanted everyone to know who they were, since they went from Alimos to Ilioupoli in a motorcycle formation three abreast, 2,5 km long. Everyone is in danger, according to the civil action counsel, and also referred to the technique of surrounding, making special mention to the attack on Fyssas. Civil action counsel Zotos praised the value of the witnesses in the case of the attack on “Synergeio”, since they contributed with photographs and video to uncover the defendants. Another very important characteristic, according to the civil action counsel is the pre-announcement, since they aimed to close down all antifascist centers, so that Golden Dawn could open offices in the area. And the terror tactics paid off, since the center closed down.

Concerning “Antipnoia” the civil action counsel said that the attack was carried out by a criminal organization, given that a member of the central committee, Siatounis, participated and enjoyed the support of Lagos and Kasidiaris throughout, and as a reward he was put on the Golden Dawn ballot.

Referring to the second group of targets, i.e. immigrants, he invoked the testimony of the President of the Muslim Association of Greece, who mentioned many attacks, such as the shops in Nikaia, the houses in Aspropyrgos that numbered 50 victims, and all of it described by the victims themselves. The civil action counsel then commented on the statement of Papavasiliou that he is a member of Golden Dawn, and that they [:the immigrants] must leave, because they are dirty, unwashed, cockroaches, etc. Concerning the attack in Vainia he said that we know who the assailants are thanks to witness Bilalis, who overcame his fear and noted down the license plate numbers. Concerning the attack in Palaio Faliro, the counsel maintained that it falls under the category of a criminal organization, since, as is written in the indictment, “We should attack all those we deem our enemies”. The attacks are similar in nature and Golden Dawn members are correct in assuming that these attacks fall under the purview of the organization.

V. Comments by the defense counsels concerning the witness testimonies

Defense counsel Spyropoulos (for Daskalakis, Petrakis, and Psyllakis, defendants in the case of the attack on the Pakistanis in the village of Vainia, in Ierapetra) stated that the victims identified no one and that his principals do not match the descriptions. He described witness Bilalis as a prophet after the fact, since he identified Petrakis for the first time in the court in Neapoli, and stressed that there was no proof that his principals acted under orders.

Defense counsel Saxioni, referring to the “Synergeio” case, said that witnesses Drimylis and Gogoulos, as the months passed and up to November 2013, kept adding to their testimonies. Concerning Apostolopoulos she said she would speak in the future, and invoked non bis in idem [:a legal doctrine to the effect that no legal action can be instituted twice against someone for the same crimes].

Defense counsel Koudouris, for Kalpitzis, stated that just because his principal is the owner of a motorcycle should not be sufficient grounds to convict him of such a serious crime. He went on to maintain that witnesses Gogoulos, Drimylis, and Tsafalopoulos changed their testimonies and that the witnesses’ hate cannot be allowed to lead to the conviction of innocent men.

Defense counsel Tzabatzi, referring to the attacks on the immigrant establishments in Amerikis Square, stated that the response was an expression of the whole community because of the deviant behaviors in these establishments, and that as a consequence there were no racist motives. She stated that now that the immigrants have left the troubles have stopped, that not all of the residents in the area are Golden Dawners, and that they had every right to complain. Concerning Skordeli she said that witness Elghandour maligned her and implicated her just because of the color of her hair. She underscored that the mosque where the attack took place was entirely illegal and that the only piece of evidence against Skordeli was her opposition to the very high percentages of such immigrants in ghettoized parts of the city.

Defense counsel Dimitrakopoulos stated, about “Synergeio”, that the police officers talked about what they heard, not about the things they saw. He referred to witness Drimylis by saying that his involvement in the Marinos case made him undesirable and that “Synergeio” was shunned because of Drimylis. Concerning the attack on Palaio Faliro he maintained that it was a love triangle, and about Vainia he said that nowhere was it proven that the attack was carried out by a criminal organization.

Defense counsel Velentza had to say about “Synergeio” that we are dealing with a quasi-precedent and that the case had been closed and reopened for political reasons.

Defense counsel Tsagas said that the three cases of Ierapetra, Agios Panteleimonas, and Amerikis Square, are misdemeanors and so the charge of a criminal organization cannot be argued based on them. Commenting on the modus operandi, the defense counsel stated that it was proven that the attacks differ as to the time, the place, and the method, and that the witnesses are unreliable. He further argued that the examination of the modus operandi should not be exhausted in superficial similarities, and that such a conclusion can only be based in the concept of collective responsibility, which is not recognized under Greek criminal law. Defense counsel Tsagas maintained that these suppositions were connected and accumulated by the Minister of Public Order at the time, who is a politician, so that MPs could be implicated. The witness testimonies, according to the defense counsel, were deposited lightly, lacking even a nod towards the duty for truth.

Defense counsel Zografos said that this is a farce and that the Palaio Faliro attack was a crime of passion given a political veneer. Concerning witness Drimylis he stated that he used his experience in collecting evidence, and found a doctor that had photographed defendant Michos. Concerning Aslam and Elghandour he said that they brought nothing new, apart from their political leanings.

Finally, defense counsel Papadellis said that perjury had been committed by a witness and an interpreter, who are in contempt of the justice system. He said that in Palaio Faliro the investigative judge questioned minors. He supported that these cases were brought in order to encumber an audience. Concerning the arsons in Amerikis Square and Agios Panteleimonas, he said that when a single immigrant complains all hell breaks loose, whereas when a group of Greeks complain, nothing happens. Concerning “Synergeio” and “Antipnoia”, he said that the motorcycle demonstration did not have the sanction of the leadership, and that Drimylis had enemies.

The presiding judge adjourned for Thursday, April 6th, 2017, at 09:00, in the Court of Appeals.