[MGSA-L] Fwd: Case closed over Golden Dawn’s street market raid

June Samaras june.samaras at gmail.com
Mon Dec 22 21:36:18 PST 2014

USE THE LINK TO ACCESS THE VIDEO - the evidence that was apparently NOT
used in court ...


Case closed over Golden Dawn’s street market raid

 Trial against neofascist MP hinged on just one witness as victims were
reluctant to come forward   The video footage showing Barbarousis and his
group smashing stalls and yelling at migrant vendors, meanwhile, was
broadcast by TV stations across Greece and on the Internet, but it never
made it into the courtroom.  By Yiannis Papadopoulos

On September 8, 2012 a group of black-clad men led by Golden Dawn MP Costas
Barbarousis strode into the open-air market at Mesolongi, western Greece,
and began smashing stalls manned by foreigners. Of the hundreds of people
who witnessed the assault, just one woman reacted, a retired schoolteacher.
The raid by the ultranationalist deputy and his henchmen was captured on
camera by a local newspaper, showing the events in 61 frames of footage.

The teacher, Machi Papazisi, found herself alone again in November when she
appeared at the Mesolongi Misdemeanor’s Court for the trial against
Barbarousis and another nine defendants. These included a police officer
who had been assigned to the security detail of the Golden Dawn MP, who was
also a mayoral candidate in May’s local elections. A tenth defendant, a
Golden Dawn nominee in the general elections of May 2012, has since died in
a traffic accident.

The trial was originally scheduled to start in October last year but was
postponed several times on the basis that not all the defendants had legal
representation. The final hearing was in November this year. It was not
attended by representatives of the political party and local authority
officials as it had been back at the 2013 hearing, when Barbarousis arrived
at the courthouse accompanied by 20 supporters while Papazisi had just five
friends and former colleagues present to give her moral support.

“I believe that the substitution of the state by any self-proclaimed
‘protector’ is a blight on our social institutions and an affront to
democracy,” Papazisi said in a letter addressed to the Supreme Court
prosecutor in charge of the case in 2012.

She reiterated this belief at the trial, sticking to her initial statement
about the events that had taken place. None of the foreigners who abandoned
their stalls when they saw the Golden Dawn group approaching was found to
testify as a victim of assault in the trial. Without civil action, the case
was essentially doomed from the get-go.

The video

The video footage showing Barbarousis and his group smashing stalls and
yelling at migrant vendors, meanwhile, was broadcast by TV stations across
Greece and on the Internet, but it never made it into the courtroom.
Judicial experts told Kathimerini that as the video had been shot by a
licensed media outlet and was not obtained illegally, it could have been
entered as evidence in the trial. However, that didn’t happen. Instead, the
bench asked four police officers at the scene to identify whether the
people seen in the video were there in the courtroom. None of them
identified a single person as being directly responsible for a single
action. When asked if any of the defendants had come to their attention
before, all four policemen responded in the negative. A few days earlier,
however, the same court had sentenced one of the defendants to eight months
in prison for attacking a Roma camp in Aitoliko, just a few kilometres
north of Mesolongi, in October 2012. Another had received an eight-month
sentence four days before the Golden Dawn raid on the market for usurping
authority during a similar raid. In contrast to Barbarousis, he was
arrested and charged on the spot during the Mesolongi attack and sentenced
the next day on the basis of his prior conviction. Two of them, therefore,
had prior records in the same jurisdiction.

According to the testimony of one of the witnesses for the prosecution, the
second defendant mentioned above, along with another man, had approached
her at another market on September 11, 2012, three days after the raid led
by Barbarousis, and asked whether she had a license to operate her stall.

“They told me they were supervisors and had received a phone call ordering
them to conduct an inspection,” the witness said. “I told them that I was a
Greek tax-paying citizen and that inspections are carried out by people
assigned by the state.”

The deputy prosecutor was terse when delivering her decision after about
two hours of testimony in the Barbarousis trial. Her recommendation that
all the defendants be acquitted was accepted by the bench. Legal experts
who know the details of the case said that without more witnesses and with
no victims present, the case simply fell apart.

However, judicial sources told Kathimerini that the charge of unprovoked
and malicious damage of foreign property also includes the charge of
anti-social behavior of the assailant. In this case, the victim does not
need to take civil action and the value of the property that has been
destroyed is not taken into account. The avenue was never explored.


According to the case file seen by Kathimerini, shortly before 9 a.m. on
September 8, 2012, two municipal police officers arrived at the entrance of
the Mesolongi open-air market in order to ascertain whether the sellers’
licenses were in order. Before they were joined by a special guard from the
Greek Police to assist in the inspection, a group of 15 Golden Dawn men,
along with Barbarousis, arrived at the scene.

“The sudden arrival of such a large group of people frightened me and I
think the civilians felt the same,” one of the municipal officers, whose
name has been withheld for legal reasons, said in her initial testimony.

According to her and a colleague’s deposition, Barbarousis’s personal
guard, a police sergeant, told the municipal officers that the group wanted
to join the official inspections. Members of the Golden Dawn group shouted
out, “Let’s see if you’re doing your jobs,” and, “If you won’t come with
us, we’ll go alone.”

When the municipal officers responded that they would be working alone, the
sergeant said, according to police files, “That’s fine, I’m a policeman

The Golden Dawn group entered the market. A dozen or so of the market’s
non-Greek vendors fled at the sight of the black-clad men – this was not
the first raid of its kind. Barbarousis and his men stopped at the stall of
the president of the union representing street sellers, Antonis Barbetakis,
and invited him to go on the inspection with them.

“I told them that an inspection cannot be carried out without a policeman
being present,” he allegedly said in his initial statement. At the trial,
however, he denied seeing any of the Golden Dawn supporters attacking
sellers, saying that they just kicked around some boxes used by unlicensed
vendors to build makeshift stands.

Their activities were caught on camera by local newspaper Aichmi, which
handed the material over to the police. The footage is under three minutes
long, but the men are seen kicking stalls and boxes, emptying bags of
merchandise onto the ground and asking vendors where they were from and
whether their foreign colleagues were legal or not.

One of the charges brought against the defendants was that of usurping
authority. The court, however, could not even examine the issue as Law 4198
from 2013 writes off all misdemeanors carrying a sentence of up to one year
in prison and committed before August 31, 2013. According to a Supreme
Court circular, the aim of this amendment was to help decongest prisons by
writing off charges considered of little importance on the basis of the
sentence they carry. What it achieved, however, was to write off the raid
as well.

As for the police officer who was accompanying Barbarousis, he was also
acquitted by the court but was placed under investigation by the Greek
Police for his role in the incident. Kathimerini has learned that this
investigation found the officer guilty of misrepresentation and use of
excessive force. The deputy police chief who conducted the initial
investigation referred the sergeant to a disciplinary council, which was to
rule whether there were grounds for his dismissal. The council ruled that
the officer had acted in a way that was “undignified, inappropriate and
inexcusable.” To this day he remains under suspension as a separate
investigation is being conducted after his service gear was found at the
Golden Dawn office in Agrinio during a police raid on the premises.

Papazisi was the only civilian at the Mesolongi street market who openly
questioned the actions of Barbarousis and his group. “This is the stuff of
the dictatorship,” she is seen shouting in the video. As a student of
history and archaeology at the University of Athens she had participated in
the uprising that brought down the junta in 1973. She does not think she
was being heroic that September morning at the market but believes that her
reaction was “only natural.”

A few days after all the defendants were acquitted, Papazisi spoke to
Kathimerini of her experience. She was not able to tell the court which of
the suspects did what exactly, saying that they swept through the market in
a blur.

“I hope that they regret their actions and start respecting their fellow
humans,” she said of the people who accompanied the Golden Dawn MP at the

“My only hope from this process is that something positive comes out for
society as a whole. I hope that people learn to react on the spot to any
such incident, to raise their voices and impose the boundaries that lead to
harmonious coexistence,” she said.

June Samaras
(For Books about Greece)
2020 Old Station Rd
Canada L5M 2V1
Tel : 905-542-1877
E-mail : kalamosbooks at gmail.com
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