Damian Mac Con Uladh

Archive for November, 2012|Monthly archive page

The 24 victims of the 1973 Athens Polytechnic uprising

In General on 17 November 2012 at 4:08 pm

One was a 22-year-old Norwegian tourist to Greece who would never return home after she was shot in the chest. Another was a 5½-year-old boy, shot in the head while crossing the road with his mother.

They are just two of the victims – their names generally forgotten – of the events surrounding the Athens Polytechnic Uprising of 17 November 1973, when the ruling junta sent in the tanks to crush a student revolt against their dictatorial rule.

Research published in 2003 by the National Hellenic Research Foundation (EIA) named 24 people as having been killed in and around the Polytechnic campus on November 16-18.

The historian who carried out the research, Dr Leonidas Kallivretakis, carefully crosschecked a number of existing lists and records, before arriving at his own list.

Given that Dr Kallivretatkis’ list is not, to my knowledge, available in English, I’ve translated it below have also produced a Google Map (further down) showing the location of each fatality.

As in previous years, there are those who will deny that anyone died during the Polytechnic uprising. Neonazi Golden Dawn have been quite vocal about this this year, but there are doubters and deniers within the ranks of other parties too, particularly New Democracy. Hopefully, this blog post will contribute in some way to combating these denials.

The names of the victims of state violence on and around 17 November 1973:

1. Spyros Kontomaris, son of Anastasis, aged 57, lawyer (former Centre Union MP for Corfu), resident of Agiou Meletiou St, Athens. At around 8.30–9pm on 16 November 1973, he was standing at the junction of Georgiou Stavrou and Stadiou streets, when police fired tear gas at protesters, resulting in him suffering a heart attack. Pronounced dead at arrival at a Red Cross first aid station.

2. Diomedes Komnenos, son of Ioannis, aged 17, school pupil, resident of Lefkados 7, Athens. Between 9.30–9.45pm on 16 November 1973, while he was with other protesters at the intersection of Averof and Marni streets, he was fatally wounded in the heart from shots fired by public order ministry guards. Transferred to a Red Cross first aid station and from there, dead, to what is now the General State hospital.

3. Sokratis Michail, aged 57, insurance agent, resident of Peristeri, Athens. Between 9–10.30pm on 16 November 1973, while he was somewhere between Bouboulinas and Solonos streets, police fired tear gas at protesters, during which he suffered a blood clot in the left coronary artery. He was transferred to the Red Cross first aid station on Triti Septemvriou St, where he died.

4. Toril Margrethe Engeland, daughter of Per Reidar, aged 22, student, from Molde, Norway. At about 11.30pm on 16 November 1973, she was fatally wounded in the chest by a shot fired by public order ministry guards. [Another source says she was at the junction of Averof and Triti Septemvriou streets.] Taken by protesters to the Acropol hotel and later, after she had died, to a Social Insurance Foundation (IKA) first aid station. Originally, she was incorrectly listed by police as the “Egyptian Toril Teklet” and this mistake can still be found in some lists of the dead.


5. Vasilis Famellos, son of Panayiotis, aged 26, private-sector employee, from Pyrgos, Ileias prefecture, resident of Kasou 1, Kypseli, Athens. At about 11.30pm on 16 November 1973, he was fatally wounded in the head by shots fired by public order ministry guards. [Another source says he was at the junction of Averof and Triti Septemvriou streets.] Taken by protesters to a Red Cross first aid station and from there, dead, to what is now the General State hospital.


6. Yiorgos Samouris, son of Andreas, aged 22, student at the Panteion Univiersity, originally from Patras, resident of Plateia Kountouriotou 7, Koukaki. Shortly before midnight on 16 November 1973, while in the general area of the Polytechnic (Kallidromiou and Zosimadon streets), he was fatally wounded in the neck by police fire. Moved to the makeshift medical clinic in the Polytechnic, he later died. From there, his body was taken to an IKA first aid station. His surname was incorrectly listed by police as “Chamourlis”.


7. Dimitris Kyriakopoulos, son of Antonis, aged 35, builder, from Kalavryta, a resident of Peristeri, Attica. On the evening of 16 November 1973, while he was in the Polytechnic, he was hit with tear gas and then was beaten by police with truncheons, the result of which he died from an acute aortic rupture, three days later, on 19 November 1973, at a Red Cross first aid station.


8. Spyros Marinos, son of Dionysis, nicknamed Georgaras, aged 31, private-sector employee, from Exochora on Zakynthos. On the evening of 16 November 1973, he was in the area of Polytechnic, where he was beaten by police with truncheons and suffered traumatic brain injuries. Moved to Pentelis Hospital, where he died on 19 November 1973 after an acute stroke. He was buried in his hometown, where a service was held in his memory on 9 September 1974.

9. Nikos Markoulis, son of Petros, aged 24, worker, from Partheni in Thessaloniki, resident of Christomanou 67, Sepolia, Athens. In the early hours of 17 November 1973, while walking on Vathis Square, he was wounded in the abdomen by a burst of fire shot by a military patrol. Taken to what is now the General State hospital, he died there on 19 November 1973.

10. Katerina Argyropoulou, wife of Angelis, aged 76, a resident of Kennedy and Kalymnos streets, Agioi Anargyroi, Athens. At 10am on 17 November 1973, while in the yard of her house, she was wounded in the back by a bullet. Taken to the Pammakaristos clinic in Kato Patisia, where she remained for one month. Returning home, she died six months later, in May 1974, as a result of trauma.

11. Stelios Karayiorgis, son of Agamemnonos, aged 19, builder, resident of Miaouli 38, Neo Irakleio, Athens. At 10.15am on 17 November 1973, while he was with other protesters on Patision St, between the Aelao and Ealinis cinemas, he was wounded by a burst of machine-gun fire shot from an armoured vehicle. Taken to KAT hospital, he died 12 days later, on 30 November 1973.

12. Markos Karamanis, son of Dimitris, aged 23, an electrician from Piraeus, resident of Chiou 35, Egaleo. At about 10.30am on 17 November 1973, while he was standing on the flat roof of the building at Egyptou 1, he was fatally wounded in the head by a shot fired by military guards from the rooftop of the OTE building opposite. (The perpetrator was Lieutenant Ioannis Lymperis, 573rd infantry battalion). Taken to the Pantanassa clinic on Plateia Victoria, where he was pronounced dead.

13. Alexandros Spartidis, son of Stratis, aged 16, school pupil, from Piraeus, resident of Agias Lavras 80, Ano Patision, Athens. Around 10.30–11am on 17 November 1973, while walking at the intersection of Patision and Kotsika streets, he was fatally injured by a shot to the stomach from the military guards on the rooftop of the OTE building opposite. (The perpetrator was Lieutenant Ioannis Lymperis, 573rd infantry battalion.) Suffering a perforating injury, he was taken to KAT hospital, where his father found him dead.

14. Dimitris Papaioannou, aged 60, manger of the social insurance fund for flour industry employees, resident of Aristomenous 105, Athens. Around 11.30am on 17 November 1973, while at Omonia Square, he was caught up in tear gas fired by police. Taken to a Red Cross first aid station, which pronounced his death from a heart attack.

15. Yiorgos Yeritsidis, son of Alexandros, aged 47, tax office official, resident of Elpidos 29, Neo Irakleio, Athens. At noon on 17 November 1973, while driving his car at Nea Liosia (now Ilion), he was fatally wounded in the head by fire that came through the roof of the car. Taken to what is now the General State hospital, he died later on the same day.

16. Vasiliki Bekiari, daughter of Fotis, aged 17, a school pupil who also worked, from Ampelaki in Aitoloakarnania prefecture, resident of Metagenous 8, Neos Kosmos, Athens. At noon on 17 November 1973, while she was on the roof of her house, she was fatally wounded in the neck by gunfire. Taken to what is now the General State hospital, she was transferred to Evangelismos hospital, where she died the same day.

17. Dimitris Theodoras, son of Theofanis, aged 5½, resident of Anakreontos 2, Zografou, Athens. At 1pm on 17 November 1973, while crossing the street with his mother at the intersection of Tritis Orinis Taxiarxias St and Papagou Ave in Zografou, he was fatally wounded in the head by a shot fired from a military patrol (probably by Capt Spyridon Stathakis of the Tank and Cavalry Training Centre or ΚΕΤΘ, which was skirmishing on Agios Therapondos hill). Killed instantly, he was taken to the Children’s hospital, which confirmed his death.

18. Basri (Alexandros Vasilis) Karakas, aged 43, Afghan Turkic nationality, juggler, resident of Myron 10, Agios Panteleimonas, Athens. At 1pm on 17 November 1973, while walking with his 13-year-old son at the intersection of Heyden and Acharnon streets, he was fatally wounded in the abdomen by a shot fired from an armoured military vehicle. Taken directly to a morgue, where he was pronounced dead.

19. Alexandros Papathanasiou, son of Spyridon, aged 59, retired tax office official, from Kerasovo, Agrinio, Aitoloakarnania prefecture, resident of Naxou 116, Athens. At 1.30pm on 18 November 1973, while walking with his two young daughters at the intersection of Drosopoulou and Kythnou streets, opposite the 16th police station, he got caught up in gunfire fired from the station by police officers, and lost consciousness (syncope). Taken to a first aid station, he was pronounced dead.

20. Andreas Koumbos, son of Stergios, aged 63, tradesman, originally from Karditsa, resident of Amaliados 12, Kolonos, Athens. Between 11–12am on 18 November 1973, while walking at the intersection of Triti Septemvriou and Kapodistriou streets, he was injured in the pelvis by a shot fired from an armoured military vehicle. Taken to a Red Cross first aid station, he was transferred to what is how the General State hospital, before ending up at the KAT hospital, where he died on 30 January 1974.

21. Michailis Myroyiannis, son of Dimitris, aged 20, electrician, from Mytilini, resident of Asimaki Fotila 8, Athens. At noon on 18 November 1973, while walking at the intersection of Patision and Stournari streets, he was fatally wounded in the head with a shot fired from a revolver by an army officer (the perpetrator was Colonel Nikolaos Dertilis, who remains in jail to this day after his conviction for murder). Taken in a comatose state to a Red Cross first aid station and, from there, to the General State hospital, where he died later on the same day.

22. Kyriakos Panteleakis, son of Dimitris, aged 44, lawyer, from Krokees, Lakonia, resident of Feron 5, Athens. Between noon and 12.30pm on 18 November 1973, while walking at the intersection of Patision and Gladstonos streets, he was fatally wounded by fire shot from passing tanks. Taken to what is now the General State hospital, where he died on 27 December 1973.

23. Stathis Koliniatis, aged 47, from Piraeus, resident of Nikopoleos 4, Kamatero, Athens. Suffered head injuries when beaten by police on 18 November 1973. Died as a result of his injuries on 21 November 1973.

24. Yiannis Mikronis, son of Angelos, aged 22, electrical engineering student at the University of Patras, from Ano Alisos in Achaia. Participated in occupation of his university. Beaten afterwards, in circumstances that remain unclear. Suffered a ruptured liver, from which he died on 17 December 1973 at the General People’s hospital. Some sources say that he suffered his injuries in Patras; others say Athens. The case remains open. In some lists, his name is given as Kostas Mikronis.

Map showing where each victim was shot, beaten or died of complications following tear gas inhalation

Note: This list was updated on 10 November 2013 to correct the spelling of Toril Margrethe Engeland, as confirmed by her sister, Liv Kari Engeland.

Greek police refuse to answer questions on Walid Taleb

In General, Greek crisis on 15 November 2012 at 4:48 pm

He was tortured by his employer for 18 hours in a stable. When he managed to escape, he spent the next four days in a police cell.

His name is Walid Tabeb. And the Greek police are refusing to answer questions about his treatment.

On Tuesday, the The Irish Times published my article on the 29-year-old Egyptian national, who was abducted and tortured by his baker employer on the island of Salamina.

Waled Taleb waits to testify to an examining magistrate in Piraeus courthouse on November 9 (Photo: Eirini Vourloumis)

The article was the most read article on the online edition of the The Irish Times that day and was shared over 1,400 times on Facebook and tweeted almost 400 times. Hopefully, this will help Walid get the justice he deserves.

The piece detailed the shocking treatment Walid endured at the hands of his four captors, but also wrote about how he was detained for four nights in a police cell after the attack. Earlier, when he was taken to hospital, medics said they had no reason to keep him in.

During his time in police custody, he says he received no medical treatment, apart from some paracetamol.

On Monday morning, I sent an email to the press office of the Greek Police containing five questions relating to his treatment.

My questions were as follows:

  1. On what grounds was Mr Walid, a victim of a brutal ordeal, detained?
  2. Did he receive any medical treatment during his attention. If so, from whom. If not, why not?
  3. On what grounds was he released on Thursday?
  4. How much of the money allegedly stolen from Mr Walid by the alleged perpetrators has been returned to him and when did this happen?
  5. Will Mr Walid be allowed remain in the country until a trial against the perpetrators is held?

When I followed the email up with a phone call, I was informed by the press office that, as I was writing for a foreign newspaper (I should point out that I am a member of  a Greek press union), I had to submit my question via the secretariat general of information and communication/secretariat general of mass media, as the former press ministry is now known.

So, I duly forwarded my original email to the general secretariat, and was subsequently informed by an official there that the police would need two full working days to answer my query. Even though that meant the answer would come through after my Irish Times deadline had passed, I nevertheless requested that my questions be answered.

My piece stated:

Contacted yesterday, Greece’s police press office said it would need two working days to answer written questions from The Irish Times about Walid’s treatment.

On Thursday morning, two days later, I duly received a reply from the foreign correspondents’ office at the secretariat general, which I’ve reproduced below:

The Press Office of the Hellenic Police has just informed us that the case of Mr Walid is no longer in their jurisdiction, since the brief has already been filed to the District Attorney’s office. So, they won’t be able to answer your questions.

So there you have it: the Greek Police claims that foreign correspondents must submit questions via the former press ministry and that it takes two working days to process queries.

It was a very disingenuous answer, as other foreign correspondents I have asked say they never heard of this procedure. They say they call the police spokesman directly for comment.

With rules like this, the Greek Police can avoid answering any pressing question from a foreign correspondent on the behaviour of its officers.

A cynic would say they have designed bureaucratic procedures to avoid answering tough questions.

Do similar restrictions exist in other countries?

Update 1: The above post was written in a a hurry. It is true that the case is now before the courts. On Thursday, November 8, the baker and his alleged accomplices appeared before an examining magistrate to present their testimony and were subsequently released on restrictive conditions.

On Friday, November 9, the victim, Walid Taleb, appeared before the magistrate for the same reason.

So when I submitted my query on Monday, November 12, the police must have known about this. It was general knowledge after all, having been reported in much of the country’s press. Why they continued to insist on a two-working day right of reply to state this is most peculiar.

The only reason I can think of for the delay is that they didn’t want to see the sentence “We are unable to answer your questions” appearing in the article.

Update 2: I neglected to mention what my  five questions to the police were. I’ve now added them to the blog post.

Update 3: While the case is before the courts, it’s important to remind ourselves what the justice system will be looking at: the events leading up to Walid’s abduction and his 18-hour torture. I’m unaware that it will look at what happened afterwards, i.e. his four-night stay in a police cell. That means if the police were to comment, it could have no bearing on the trial against the baker and his accomplices.

Claims of rising racism in Greece as young Egyptian tortured by employer

In Greece on 13 November 2012 at 9:42 am
Walid Taleb some days after his ordeal in Piraeus courthouse in 2012 (Photo: Eirini Vourloumis)

Walid Taleb some days after his ordeal in Piraeus courthouse in 2012 (Photo: Eirini Vourloumis)

As he arrived on his bike for a 3am clock-in at the family-owned bakery on the Greek island of Salamina, Walid Taleb had no reason to think his 10-hour shift that morning would be different from any other.

But Saturday, November 3rd, was to prove different – the 29-year-old Egyptian migrant disappeared into a maelstrom of beating at the hands of his employer, his son and two accomplices, who chained him up and tortured him for 18 hours in a stable.

That ordeal was followed by indifference by medics, who said he didn’t require hospitalisation after he was found beaten black and blue on a village street, and by police, who detained him in a cell for four nights after the attack. On that Saturday morning, Walid’s trouble started two hours before the end of his shift, when baker Yiorgos Sgourdos’s son, a 19-year-old just back from his compulsory military service, told the Egyptian to clear off and never come back.

Unpaid wages

Taken aback at his rash dismissal, Walid felt there was little he could do as an immigrant with no papers. But he did ask for the two months’ unpaid wages he was owed.

Hearing that, the baker’s son twice punched Walid in the face. With that, the father appeared on the scene with another man, and they joined in the beating.

They searched him, and in a pocket found a large sum, about €12,000, a discovery that fuelled, they would later tell an examining magistrate, their suspicion that he was stealing from the premises. It’s a charge that his friends strenuously deny, pointing out that, unable to open bank accounts, they entrusted their hard-earned savings to the care of Walid, whom his compatriots saw as safe and trustworthy.

Walid’s three tormenters then placed a ring and chain around his neck, bundled him into a car and drove a short distance to a stable, next to the baker’s home.

That’s when the horror started for Walid, who says the baker and his gang seemed to be in for the long haul: police later found water, food, alcohol and cigarettes in the outhouse. In the ordeal that followed, he was beaten in shifts and told he would be killed.

“‘You will die here and here you will be buried.’ The son told me that his father had a gun and that he would kill me,” Walid told this newspaper, adding that he was certain he would never leave the stable alive. But when the baker and the others left the stable to open the bakery on Sunday morning, Walid managed to use a rock to smash the ring binding him to the ground. Stumbling outside, his face bruised, and unable to talk, he wandered for a couple of hours around the village before collapsing in front of a petrol station, when shocked passersby called the police.

Walid Taleb was found beaten on a street in Salamina

Walid Taleb was found beaten on a street in Salamina

Taken to hospital by ambulance, Walid’s second ordeal then started. When doctors said there was no need to keep him in, the police took him into custody, detaining him for three nights in a cell with criminal suspects on Salamina and a night in the Athens “aliens’ bureau”, where preparations were made to deport him to Egypt.

No medical treatment

Contacted yesterday, Greece’s police press office said it would need two working days to answer written questions from The Irish Times about Walid’s treatment.

Rabab Hassan, a volunteer with the Egyptian community in Greece, said: “Walid received no medical treatment in all this time, apart from some paracetamol given to him by the police.”

With the help of a lawyer, Hassan managed to secure Walid’s release from custody four nights after the attack. The same day, Sgourdos, the baker, was also released, subject to restrictive bail terms. Along with his three co-accused, he faces charges of robbery, abduction and grievous bodily harm and illegally employing an alien. If found guilty, he could go to prison for at least 10 years.

What has shocked observers is that the 59-year-old Sgourdos is a former local councillor and deputy mayor for conservative New Democracy on Salamina. Last Friday, as four friends carried him out of a Piraeus courtroom where he testified to an examining magistrate, Walid’s pain was etched on his face. Barely able to whisper and with his head slumped on the shoulder of a friend, he dozed off while fellow Egyptians from Salamina looked on in disbelief as they recounted the unbelievable and unpredicted ordeal among themselves. They said he was still passing blood six days after the incident.

Alarmed that Walid had not returned home from work, they had spent hours on Saturday and Sunday morning looking for their friend. When they asked at the bakery on Saturday, they were told Walid had left as normal.

“On Sunday morning I spoke to the baker, who offered me coffee and walked around with me looking for Walid’s bike. He even said to me that by not showing up for work, he was destroying his business,” said Mustafa Samir, as he sat with Walid in a Piraeus hospital on Saturday. His ordeal is more proof that casual brutality towards foreigners is on the rise in Greece, where Golden Dawn, an openly violent, fascist party that demands the immediate deportation of all illegal migrants and the mining of the country’s borders, has 18 MPs in the 300-seat parliament.

UN response

Characterising the attack as one of “striking brutality”, the Athens office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, which recently set up a racist violence recording network with a number of non-governmental organisations, said it can be considered a racially motivated act “since it is doubtful that such an act would have been the same had the victim been Greek”.

It added that the response of the authorities in Walid’s case “follows a pattern” noted in a recent report from the network whereby survivors lacking legal documents have been arrested with a view to deportation after going to the police to report racist violence against them.

“If this happened to a Greek in Egypt, what would the reaction of the Greek government have been?” Walid, who is married and has two young daughters, asked from his hospital bed.

* This article appeared in the Irish Times on 13 November 2012