Saturday, January 29, 2011

Thessaloniki 4 trial update, day #6

January 29, 2011 Occupied London

Wednesday 26 January 2011, 9am, Thessaloniki Courthouse.

With the prosecution having been completed and the defence witnesses
rather hastily examined, it was now the job of the prosecutor to outline
the reasoning of the laws being used to charge the defendants.

The charges were: causing explosions with the intent to endanger human
life, possession of materials or devices designed to cause explosions. The
point here is that possession can be proven even if the explosives were in
your possession for a second. Causing explosions was intricately linked to
possession, ie, you had to possess in order to cause, though they stood as
separate charges. Combining the act of possession and causation created
the offence of ‘Distinguished riot’.

So far so good. Or bad, depending on how you look at it.

He outlined what had happened in Genoa in 2001, and the expectation of
trouble at the June 2003 EU summit in Thessaloniki. The ‘Black Bloc’ was
expected to be present, and would be prepared, armed with a variety of
weapons with the intent to endanger life and property in defiance of
authority. In the event, shops, cars and offices were attacked, damaged or
burnt. 8 police were injured.

For Michalis, he demanded that he be convicted of causing continuous
explosions – more serious than causing a single explosion. He could not
believe that policeman today could be either mistaken in identification or
be lying: if the cops had wanted to fabricate evidence they would have
used more than one police witness against Michalis. He concluded that the
decision of the first trial was correct and that Michalis should be
convicted of causing continuous explosions, possession of explosives and
distinguished riot.

For Kastro, he said that he had thrown 10 molotovs, though without
endangering life. In that sense, the causation charge was dropped but he
demanded prosecution for possession of explosives, and of distinguished

For Fernando, both the possession and use of explosives was not proven due
to doubts about identification and the unreliability of the police
witnesses. He requested that all charges against Fernando be dropped.

For Simon, he was satisfied that he had caused one single explosion with
intent to endanger life (in the first trial it had been continuous
explosions), that the possession of 7 molotovs was proven by 9 witnesses
against him, and he could not believe that 9 cops would all be lying. He
concluded that he may well have been beaten, but these two charges
combined created the third charge of distinguished riot.

After a break, 5 of the lawyers made their closing speeches in favour of
their clients and as part of the broader picture that united all the
cases. However, as the clock ticked towards 15.00, Bakkellas, the lawyer
for Simon, asked that he delay his summing up as there would not be time
before the usual end of court business at 15.30. The judges wanted him to
go ahead and run over if necessary, and there was a certain amount of
shouting. Also, the clerk of the court pointed out that she didn’t want it
to overrun as she was not going to be paid overtime.

One of the three judges was already booked for another trial Thursday, and
Friday was going to be another strike day for the lawyers’ union. So the
presentation of Bakkellas’ summing up was delayed to be heard on Monday
morning, 31 January 2011. The judges would then trire to deliberate and
hopefully deliver their verdict later that day.

Court ended 15.30 GMT+2

#488 | Thessaloniki 4 trial update, day #5
Saturday, January 29, 2011

Tuesday 25 January 2011, 9am, Thessaloniki Courthouse.

(Day 5: for clarity, the information below has been put in a simpler order
to help readers make sense of it: in reality, the day was disjointed with
first one witness for one defendant, then for another defendant, then for
another, then a break, then back to the first defendant etc. )

Two witnesses were called for the defence of Michalis. They had been with
him on the day of the demonstration and testified that he had not been
wearing a rucksack, as they could see him clearly from behind. Neither had
seen him thrown anything, and had lost him in the gas clouds. Both
testimonies were dealt with in 10 minutes each.

Three witnesses for Kastro were called. The first knew Kastro from Crete
for many years, and testified on Kastro’s personality, and that he had not
taken a rucksack that morning when he left their shared flat. He was asked
if it was possible that Kastro would have taken his residence permit with
him and left it in a rucksack – the witness replied that Kastro did not
have a residence permit. Kastro had applied for a permit in 1997 and had
been rejected. This alleged document was anyway not included on the list
of possession’s made by the arresting officer.

Kastro’s second witness was a doctor who had seen Kastro around 6pm at the
Venizelos statue (not, as according to the police, in a mob chucking
molotovs at them). He said that he had many discussions with Kastro at the
anti-racist festival held in Thessaloniki a week before the EU
demonstration and did not think he was in any way a violent person, and he
didn’t recall Kastro having a rucksack with him. Kastro’s last witness was
a professor from the university who knew Kastro from Crete, who testified
that Kastro was not a violent person, but was hard-working and had perhaps
been victimised due to his immigrant status. Again, these witnesses were
dealt with very quickly.

There was a 2 hour sequence where documents supporting each defendant were
presented to the judges, such as work and character references, letters of
solidarity and concern from various social, political and human rights
organisations. One interesting document was a newspaper report from Spain
on how some demonstrators had successfully sued the Barcelona police for
planting bags of molotovs on them at the earlier EU summit demonstrations
in 2002.

Also, the reasoning for dropping the charges against each defendant –
originally made in February 2004 – were read to the court. After the
charges were reinstated and brought to trial in 2008, dissenting minority
reports were made (ie, by those on the panel of 3 judges and 4 jurors who
believed the defendants to be innocent but who had been out-voted in the
deliberations) and were read out for each defendant. These minority
reports outlined many of the recurring features that would arise in appeal
trial: contradictions between officers, doubts about identification, lack
of evidence, lack of detail, problems with initial arrest statements etc.

The last 3 witnesses called were for Simon. The first knew Simon for many
years from London, and testified that the demonstration culture in the UK
did not include either tear gas or the use of molotovs, and that it was
not in Simon’s character to act in such a way as alleged by the police.
The last two had been with Simon on the demonstration up until only
minutes before his arrest, and both stated that Simon had only one
rucksack, a blue one with some clothes and some water. They knew this as
they had all checked they had enough water before heading off. They both
testified to feeling trapped in clouds of gas as the demonstration was cut
up into smaller parts by charging police on all sides. Again, these
witnesses were dealt with very quickly.

Then it was finally the turn of the defendants to give their evidence.
Michalis’ lawyer spoke on his behalf (Michalis is on remand for another
offence) against the criminalisation of those who identify themselves as
anarchists. All three defendants in court rejected the charges against
them. It was near the end of the day and the judges and jury were clearly
wilting in the afternoon sunshine pouring through the windows. After a few
questions from the prosecutor and the senior judge, the defendants
testimony was completed and court closed for the day. It all seemed top
have ended too quickly, almost as if the defendants’ evidence was

The next day, Wednesday 26 January 2011, would hear the prosecutor’s
accusations, followed by the defence lawyers’ summing up. Result was
expected for that afternoon…

Court ended at 15.15 GMT+2

#487 | Thessaloniki 4 trial update, day #4
Saturday, January 29, 2011

Monday 24 January 2011, 9am, Thessaloniki Courthouse.

Officer #15 arrested Michalis and alleged that he was carrying a bag
containing 3 molotovs, 4 masks and a powerful slingshot. He stated that he
had seen Michalis throw many molotovs over a period of 30 minutes. He
couldn’t remember if Michalis was wearing gloves, or if he was wearing a
mask. He didn’t know what happened to the bag after Michalis was handed
over to the arrest team.

The defence noted that it was strange that Michalis could not be seen
wearing a mask in the video footage presented at the first trial, but that
he had four gas masks in his bag: why would he have done that? Officer #15
either didn’t know or couldn’t remember the answer to a very large number
of questions, and was the sole prosecution against Michalis.

Next, a defence witness was called for Fernando: they had been together in
the demonstration, only losing Fernando in the clouds of tear gas. He said
Fernando had not thrown anything, neither stones nor molotovs, and had not
been carrying any type of rucksack with him, just a plastic carrier bag
with some water. He said that in Spain, if a demonstration was becoming
violent and illegal, the police would use megaphones to warn people to
disperse or face the consequences. This does not happen in Greece and
subsequently they did not understand the risks they were running. He gave
evidence of how Fernando was a hard worker and active citizen in Spain,
and that Fernando had lost his job there in order to be at this trial.

The next four police witnesses (Officers #16 – 19) were all giving
evidence against Simon, and all said pretty much the same things: they
could clearly identify Simon because of the orange arm padding he wore,
that he threw only one molotov, that he was wearing the blue rucksack on
his back and carrying the black one with his left arm. They all said they
didn’t beat Simon and didn’t know how he had come to be injured. They had
all given evidence after reviewing the video and the photos five months
after the initial arrest. Officer #18 made an interesting remark: that his
squad had been running around the city when they took Simon with them
(who, by their own testimony, was handcuffed, soaked in petrol, carrying a
bag full of molotovs). They had all admitted that there were continuing
confrontations in this 2-3 hour period. Officer #19 could remember
smelling petrol from one of the bags after Simon ‘had fallen over’, even
though he was wearing a gas mask.

This was the end of the prosecution evidence.

After a break, a more entire sequence of video of Michalis was presented,
and showed that, just after the point of arrest, no policeman near him was
carrying the alleged rucksack, and that there were none on the street in
view, as the camera makes a full 360 degree pan around the scene.
Michalis’ arresting officer (Officer #15) had testified in the first trial
and at this trial that he had the rucksack in his hand from the arrest to
the point where he placed Michalis in the arrest car. No such rucksack
could be seen, and was never subsequently identified, or presented in
evidence to the court.

The police witnesses against Simon were shown the video where cops are
placing bags all around Simon. One sequence was interesting – a black
rucksack, obviously leaking a large amount of fluid (petrol?) is placed
next to Simon. None of the cops present said they were that policeman. The
cops maintained that the safest place to store the bags they found in the
street was all around Simon.

After this, several trolleys of large cardboard boxes containing a variety
of rucksacks were wheeled into court. Police officer #6 had stated that
the bags being delivered to the police station had been labeled with the
arrestee’s names. None of the bags had any form of label or identification
on them.

The last witness of the day was for the defence of Kastro: she was a
worker’s union organiser who knew Kastro from his role in helping
immigrant workers’ organisations in Crete. She had been at the main square
from 5.30 until 6.30 and testified that there were no confrontations
between police or people in the square at that time. The police had
testified that Kastro was throwing molotovs at them during this period.
She had seen Kastro near the stage around this time. She had passed
through the square the following day and had not seen any scorch marks
where the police had alleged that Kastro had been throwing molotovs at

The day ended 14.45 GMT+2.
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#486 | Emergency Solidarity Demo for Thessaloniki 4, 11am Saturday Jan
29th // Greek Tourist Office, Central London
Friday, January 28, 2011

Emergency Solidarity Demo for the Thessaloniki 4 // 11am Saturday Jan
29th* // Greek Tourist Office, Central London

The saga of the trial currently taking place in Thessaloniki, Greece
continues with a judgement on the four now due on Monday January 31st.
It was always clear that the trial and the repression which preceded was
motivated and directed at the highest levels of the Greek State.

We do not think that justice is a value known to the courts, especially
when the police have taken upon themselves to enforce the repression
of the political establishments and continue to perpetrate lies to ensure

This Monday, January 31st, will see Simon’s lawyer give his final summary
to the courts after which the Judges and Jury will retire to consider
a decision.

We call on all comrades, sympathisers and freedom-lovers to show their
solidarity with the four defendants

Solidarity to Simon Chapman, Suleiman “Kastro” Dakdouk , Michaelis
Triakapis and Fernando Perez Gorraiz

We are with you all!

Everyone to the Streets!

+++ Spread the Word +++
Text this message to your friends:
“Emergency solidarity demo for the thessaloniki four, 11am Saturday Jan
29th at the greek tourist offices, 4 conduit st ( off regent st ), w1s 2dj
– pass it on”

Tweet using #solidarity and/or #demo2011

+++ Latest Updates +++
Latest Updates:

+++ Donate +++
Donate to the solidarity fund:

*Saturday January 29th is also the date for the next big anti-austerity
demonstrations which starts from 12noon at ULU, malet street.
We hope those travelling to the demo will come early to attend the
solidarity demo before hand. Please spread the word and let people
know they can do both.

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