DAY 175: “an organized squad with motorcycle helmets and sticks was chasing immigrants”

175th Hearing, Women’s Wing, Korydallos Prison, July 19th, 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. Few journalists and spectators showed up in court today.

II. Presence of defendants

None of the defendants was present at the hearing.

III. Testimony of witness Konstantinos Papadopoulos continues

A. Examination of the witness by the defense counsels

The witness responded in turn to questions by defense counsels Michalolias N., Roussopoulos, Stavrianakis, and Papadellis, and stated, concerning the food charity to those that need it, that Golden Dawn discriminates between people according to the color of their skin, their race etc., and that a person’s poverty wasn’t reason enough to give him food, so it’s the racist overtone of the activity that bothers him. Concerning the designation of the street fruit market stalls, the witness stated that it is done by the Municipality of Nikaia, however the municipal authorities are in no position to know which stall belongs to which person because the allocation is done by the quality of life president. He also stated that he has seen Kasidiaris in a rally giving orders.

IV. Testimony of witness Nelly Papachela

A. Examination by the members of the court

The witness stated that she is a retired lawyer, a member of the municipal council and deputy mayor, and that she has been a member of the municipal authority since January 2011. At this point, as a deputy mayor for Mayor Kaminis, her area of responsibility are health-regulated establishments. She is a resident of Victoria Square, on Aristotelous Street.

When asked about the Agios Panteleimonas Square and whether it has a greater concentration of immigrants, she said that because the area has been turned into a ghetto, it was the first area that the immigrants chose to live in, and so they have formed communities there and their numbers have increased, and that the greatest increase was in 2006-7, with a peak in 2008 when the incident involving the Afghans took place in the playground. At the time, more than 50 people were living in the playground and no one from the municipal authorities ever cared to transfer them somewhere. “It was then that Golden Dawn saw its opportunity and sold to the residents a dream of security”, said the witness. The witness herself saw for the first time an organized group of Golden Dawners in November of 2008, when 100-150 people occupied the square, standing in a military formation, wearing black, carrying Golden Dawn symbols and swastikas, holding wooden clubs, and chanting slogans such as “Throw out the immigrants from our neighborhood”, “This neighborhood belongs to Greeks” etc. Opposite them were the anarchists from the Villa Amalias squat, a few residents, and between them the police, and the rally still ended in violence. From the incidents she knows of, it is well known that there were Golden Dawn patrols in the neighborhood that attacked immigrants.

The witness has also seen Maria Kanellopoulou wounded, an actress who is now a SYRIZA MP, because the attacks weren’t only directed against immigrants but also against all those that did not espouse the ideology of Golden Dawn.
The witness also mentioned that in December 2010, Pastor Maximus organized a big concert along with the Athens Megaron Concert Hall [:in the Agios Panteleimonas Church] to calm down the tensions in the neighborhood. The witness had gone to this concert and outside the church was a small group of residents who were protesting, and in the streets around the church was a group wearing black and holding sticks and shouted so that the audience wouldn’t go in, as if the place was theirs, since they thought that the concert was only in support of the immigrants. Riot police came too and she could hear inside the church the Golden Dawners shout slogans outside, and they had moved threateningly towards the Archbishop and the President of the Republic.

The witness also spoke about the presence of Skordelli in the church, along with one other whose name she never learned, who had been dubbed “The blondes”. The witness learned that Skordelli was the leader of a group that at night attacked immigrants and who was in every municipal council meeting, which is an open affair, but because the seats are limited, you must first get an invitation. She was there and at some point she took the floor as a spokeswoman for the residents, and said that “When we see cockroaches, we stamp them”, meaning the immigrants.

Concerning the murder of Kandaris she said that Golden Dawn unleashed a pogrom, chasing immigrants and breaking down shopfronts. The witness stated that one day she had come home in the early afternoon and heard a furious noise coming from the window and she saw a group of people coming down the street and after them came an organized squad with motorcycle helmets and sticks, and they started chasing and beating up immigrants on the square, and she saw them with her own eyes beating up women and children, and they seriously injured a bread street seller. She said that she thought about recording the incident on her cellphone but then she thought that they would know where she lives, and so she called the police, who came much later, and she stated that she has never been more afraid in her life. Concerning the Police Precinct in the area she said that they did absolutely nothing, and she knows from other members of the municipal council that no matter how many times they had gone to lodge a complaint, nothing came of it, no one followed through, and word was that there were groups in the police that were in collusion with Golden Dawn.

Concerning the Nazi salute by Michaloliakos the witness stated that there had been a special meeting of the municipal council and they saw that Michaloliakos was escorted by numerous weapon-bearing thugs. During the meeting Petros Konstantinou from ANTARSYA quarreled with Michaloliakos about the bringing of guns into the meeting and as he rose to leave, Michaloliakos said “I’m leaving” and raised his hand in a Nazi salute. Responding to a question by the state prosecutor, the witness stated that the immigrants were sleeping on the benches and that there had been public health concerns and that was what prompted the residents of the area to take the matters into their own hands. Golden Dawn took advantage of this situation, and emerged as a representative of these people along with Skordeli who was a candidate in the elections of 2012. Concerning the state of things in the area today, the witness said that it was hard during the summer of 2015, because of the influx of refugees [:mainly from Syria] but for now things are calm in Agios Panteleimonas and Victoria Square.

Responding to questions from the deputy state prosecutor, the witness stated that incidents of violence increased in November 2008, after the election of Michaloliakos to the Athens municipal council, and reached a peak in 2014 when they transferred their operations to the area of B’ Piraeus (Nikaia, Perama, Keratsini) and that things quietened down after the murder of Fyssas and the subsequent trial. Concerning the Nazi salute the witness saw it as a provocation and an expression of “I’m a Nazi and I’m here and you should be afraid of me”.

B. Examination of the witness by the civil action counsels

The witness answered in turn to questions by civil action counsels Theodoropoulos, Vrettos, Zafeiriou, Malagaris, Tzellis, Kabagianni, and Skarmeas, and when asked what was the meaning of the word “clean-up” mentioned by a previous witness, she answered that it meant that they would clean Victoria Square of immigrants, and concerning the documentary about Golden Dawn she remembers a Golden Dawn MP talking about soap and alluding to crematoria, and mentioned also that the political presence of Golden Dawn in the municipal council is nil, because they only want to deal with the immigrants.

Concerning the slogan “Blood, Honor, Golden Dawn” she stated that she has heard that Golden Dawners believe that blood forms a bond between them, and that after the attacks on immigrants she sees it as a threat of violence. When asked about more criminal activities she mentioned an attack with eggs and stones on Alavanos and also that she heard recently that Skordeli had been convicted of stabbing an Afghan man, and that she knows that there were attacks on anarchist squats and in any event she things that all of the above are based in Nazi ideology. She also stated that up until recently Golden Dawn said that “we should throw every immigrant into the sea” but now they pretend to be lawful and say that “Only those without papers should leave”. She went on to speak about the attack on Mayor Kaminis and that the attack on the Afghan man was precipitated because of the color of his skin.

The witness stated that Skordeli and the leadership of Golden Dawn operated under a sense of immunity and that’s why they did the things they did, and from what she can understand of the structure of the organization it seems to follow a top-down hierarchy with very specific goals.

C. Examination of the witness by the defense counsels

The witness answered in turn to questions by defense counsels Dimitrakopoulos, Stavrianakis, Aggeletos, Tsagas, Zografos, Papadellis, Oplantzakis, Velentza, Michalolias N., Michalolias G., Roussopoulos, and Mammis, and stated that right now the crime levels in the area are the same as in the rest of the city of Athens. She was also questioned about her relation to Aliki Papachela, and she said that she is her niece and the owner of Plaza Hotel, which has been occupied by solidarity groups and now accommodates refugees, however further questions along this line were forbidden by the presiding judge as irrelevant.

She was also asked about the positions of Golden Dawn concerning the memorandums, the currency of the country, and war reparations, and responding to the question about whether it is racist for Golden Dawn to hand out food only to Greeks, the witness sided with the Mayor that this is a racist discrimination, and denied that Golden Dawn in this way rights a social wrong. The witness also mentioned that she has indeed heard of a committee of “concerned citizens” in Agios Panteleimonas, and defense counsel Velentza likened the presence of the group in the church to the presence of Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem, asking the witness if Jesus should have been prosecuted (the presiding judge forbade the witness from answering this question).

When asked about the problems caused in the area by the occupation of buildings, she stated that houses had been closed and didn’t have water and so there were public health problems, and they called the Public Health Department, and with the help of the police they emptied the building and sealed it. She went on to say that the presence of “Greek Dawn” prevented the municipal authorities from solving the problems in the area, and also that the illegal brothels of the area fell under the responsibility of the police.

When asked whether the Municipality of Athens had made any announcements over the murder of Kandaris, she stated that Kandaris was the cousin of a member of the municipal council and when they deliberated the press release, the family requested that the municipal authorities not issue any, because they wanted their privacy. The last question by defense counsel Mammis was what will happen if the President of the Republic will want to host an event in the mosque that “will presently open its doors” and the presiding judge forbade the witness to answer the question.

The presiding judge adjourned for September 5, in the Court of Appeals, at 09:00.