Twenty-one persons who were arrested during a motorised antifascist demonstration, in one of the most publicised incidents of recent years, are to appear before an Athens court. The trial is scheduled to begin on Monday March 12th 2018.
By Mariniki Alevizopoulou and Augustine Zenakos
The antifascist protesters were arrested when motorised police units –dubbed “Delta” and since disbanded– broke up their antifascist motorcade demonstration in the area of Agios Panteleimonas in Athens, on September 30th 2012. The protest was a reaction to repeated violence against immigrants, perpetrated by fascist gangs, members or affiliates of Golden Dawn, the notorious neo-Nazi party that had just gained entry to the Greek Parliament. The latest such incident was a violent attack by fascists on the premises of the Tanzanian Community in Athens, on September 24th.
Not all the protesters are charged with the same offences, though charges on the whole include attempted grievous bodily harm, disturbing the peace while engaging in violent acts, carrying weapons and property damage.
The incident was widely discussed after the protesters accused the arresting officers of torturing them, both during the arrests and while in custody at police headquarters. The allegations against the police were widely publicised at the time after a story in The Guardian said that fifteen protesters were “subjected to what their lawyer describes as an Abu Ghraib-style humiliation”.
The story had prompted an indignant denial by the Minister of Public Order at the time, Mr Nikos Dendias, who is today a prominent MP and parliamentary spokesman for the New Democracy party. Mr Dendias had at the time threatened, during a speech in Parliament, to sue the newspaper. He never did. Although the former Minister has never really sufficiently explained why he failed to make good on his threat, the forensic reports that came to light after his denials in Parliament did show that the protesters had been severely brutalised.
The protesters are prosecuted on the basis of testimony by the arresting officers, who maintain that the antifascists attacked them. Some of the officers who allege that they were attacked are the ones accused by the protesters of torture. Seventeen officers are to stand trial in a different court for their alleged brutality against the antifascists, which would have begun on February 28th, but was moved to November 29th 2018.
The case also includes the testimony of two persons who allege that the protesters attacked them without provocation and viciously beat them, while they were taking a walk in the neighbourhood. These two persons have subsequently been convicted as Golden Dawn members for arson against a bar in the Agios Panteleimonas area, owned by immigrants. They are also defendants in the ongoing “criminal organization” trial against Golden Dawn.
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