Greece- Updates For the trial of the 12 fighters of the student movement in Chalkida

Posted on November 10, 2011

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For the trial of the 12 fighters of the student movement in Chalkida

Almost 5 years have passed since the peak of the student movement of 2007 against the Giannakou law-proposal, on the day of its adoption, on March 8, 2007. The forces of repression bled the most massive and combative student demonstration of the 2006-07 period, sending about 200 students to hospital with severe head and neck injuries. They blindly arrested 61 fighters, at different places at different times, among them workers in solidarity likeVassili Stergiou, who participated in the rally. Using the logic of collective responsibility, mass media Goebbels, in a barrage of false news during those days, attributed the arson of the Unknown Soldier outpost in front of the parliament to those arrested. We recall that the orchestrator of this Goebbelsian attack was the then mighty spokesman of the Karamanlis government, Th. Rousopoulos, who has since been lost in the midst of scandals. He was the one that gave the green light for the repressive attack, elevating the attack on the outpost to become the greatest insult to the ideals of the nation.
The 61 arrestees were divided into two groups, one of 49 who were charged with misdemeanors and all solemnly acquitted at the trials that began two weeks later and lasted one month; and one of 12, who were charged with 12 felonies and held those responsible hostage of the charges for five years. The chairman of the proceedings of the 49 had relegated – for the first time perhaps – the trial’s transcripts to the prosecutor in order for the police officers to be punished. However, the prosecutor has not yet called the 49 to testify as witnesses. We note here that in the trial of the 49, the only accusations that were formalized concerned a worker fighter, for whom, although unanimously acquitted at the first instance because of doubt, the prosecutor took advantage of these “doubts” so as to appeal immediately. The fellow fighter once more crossed the threshold of the Court of Appeal, to be solemnly acquitted again. This was because he was not a student, but a worker who had dared to support the students’ struggle.
Vassilis Stergiou, who was rounded up in the second group, was charged with attempted murder with intent (!) and that way was held on remand for six months,in a clear message that solidarity to the student movement will be relentlessly prosecuted.
Five years later, on Tuesday 11th October, the trial of the 12 began in Chalkida. An arrangement intended to isolate the persecuted fighters from the comrades in solidarity. The indictment was again a carbon copy, only with outrageous accusations this time: attempted murder with intent, attempted serious physical harm with intent, resistance, supplying and possession of explosives (molotov cocktails) etc. Again vague and unclear, as in the trial of the 49, except that for each defendant they had put two accusation witnesses. Stergiou appears to be more or less as the main coordinator and executor of attacks from a guerrilla group of 50 “hooded” people, which on March 8th was set to overthrow the regime!
The defence counsels have appealed first against the outrageous charge of “attempted murder with intent”, when it is not even one specific person that suffered any damage from the attempted murder cited, so as to even compose the objective elements of the offense. The prosecutor suggested its rejection, with the consideration that such charges are settled by law to be considered during the hearing process (!), no matter if pre-interrogatory police officers accuse you of being monsters, and that the objective substance of such an accusation could presumably be composed of an attack on policemen by unidentified people with Kalashnikovs, that however has no victims or injured. Legal contortions in order to pass the charge to the trial. The second objection was about the non-independence and ambiguity of the writ of summons of one of the defendants of the 61, who was arbitrarily found in the 12, in the group of the “50 hooded rebels”, although he had been arrested among the 49, hours later and on a different attack by the police.
The court rejected the objections of the defence counsels in “no-time”. Then, the testimonies of the three witnesses for the accusation followed. The first police officer had already fallen into contradiction at the questioning stage of his testimony. He said that he arrested Stergiou because he recognized him among the 50, as he was wearing ski goggles. But, he had them in his rucksack, along with his equipment.
Then how the hell was able to recognize and to arrest him, if he had his features covered before? The answer is simple: there were photographs that were immediately leaked to the press and Indymedia, showing Stergiou at the time of his arrest having none of his features covered, like the dozens of other protesters who were beside him and had received the unseemly riot police attack. The police had moved the “equipment”, to substantiate the accusation, and put its assignee to talk in his testimony. In the prosecutor’s question if he considers that Stergiou had homicidal intent, the police officer replied that he does not believe so, although a molotov cocktail could cause serious harm to the police officer.
Despite the choice of Chalkida as a place for the trial, in order to isolate defendants from the people in solidarity, there were many (over 100) from Athens and Thessaloniki, who defied the distance. The student movement has the obligation to stand by the 12 defendants with diverse actions nationwide, showing the solidarity to its persecuted fighters, aiming at their solemn acquittal, as happened with the 49.
On October 25, 2011, the second session of the Mixed Jury Court in Chalkida was held for the case of the 12 fighters of the student movement who were arrested along with dozens others during the large demonstration of March 8, 2007 and were persecuted with felony accusations. The trial was interrupted early, due to the abstention of court officials, the prosecutor, however, managed to force a cap to the upper limit of the people in the audience, with the excuse that the massive presence of people in solidarity -that made their presence felt boldly inside the court as well as in the centre of the provincial city during the first session- may possible influence the judges and the juries! The court reserved the right to respond in the future.
On October 31, the trial continued normally with the parade of the accusation’s false-witnesses. As we wrote in a previous note, in order to present personalised accusations and “truss” the cases, the police “cooks” put two accusation witnesses for every defendant. The result, of course, was surreal. Each of the pair literally “wiped out” the “other half”. The contradictions were outrageous, causing general hilarity in the court and discomfort and irritation to the bearers. “We definitely put handcuffs on him”. “I am sure that we did not put handcuffs on him”. “I do not know what the other accusation witnesses said, but when arrests were made there was no tear gas in the air, there were no people, nor were there any conflicts taking place”. “But what are you saying, counsel, the atmosphere was suffocating, there were molotov cocktails dropping, they were throwing stones at us from everywhere”, etc., etc.
There were several witnesses that were not able to recognize inside the court the defendant that they allegedly had arrested (!) with the argument that much time has passed since then. They were making reference to the pre-trial deposition. In some cases the “other half” of the “forgetful” witness was absolutely sure about the defendant, although the description he gave about the perpetrator was completely different to the one he had given in the pre-trial deposition.
Moreover, their pre-trial statements were carbon copy and not only for the false witnesses. Each testimony began with an identical set of identifying those arrested, followed by a “formalization” of the charge and then the fantastic closure: “We want the unknown perpetrators to be legally prosecuted”! Not the specific reported arrestees in the testimony, but unknown! We are going bananas with the police inspector-gadgets!
Who knows what these “cooks” have in mind? To present new defendants in the trial? Whatever their aim, they made themselves ridiculous once again. The dictation of the witness accounts from above was evident in court. In addition, groups of witnesses gave different numbers for the block of “hooded guerrillas”, from which thedefendants were allegedly arrested. Some in their accounts calculated them at 1000, others at 200 and others at 40! Some tragicomic events were also present, with witnesses for the accusation inventing a female comrade of average height, against all common sense and common experience, a female “Rambo” that concurrently held blocks of wood, dealt a succession of serious blows to the riot police officer witnesses and threw bricks at them!
On Monday 7th November, the court will complete the examination of all the witnesses for the accusation and the process of reading documents will follow. We must not leave our comrades alone. It is the debt and duty of the movement, primarily the students, to embrace this struggle.

 Video :Riots in students protest, 8/3/07

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