Damian Mac Con Uladh

Posts Tagged ‘Crime and law’

‘Why did you annoy them?’ Coastguard officials acquitted of torture convictions

In Greece on 12 November 2014 at 6:26 pm

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Two coastguard officials who were convicted last year of torturing a Moroccan asylum seeker on the island of Chios in 2007 were acquitted by an Athens appeals court last week.

Calling for the coastguards’ sentences to be squashed, the state prosecutor claimed, among others, that no torture could have taken place as there is no evidence that the coastguard officers had received training in torture methods.

In November of last year, Piraeus naval court found the pair guilty of having tortured their victim by putting a bag over his head and submerging it in a bucket of water, a type of waterboarding known as the so-called “wet and dry submarino”, and by carrying out a mock execution. They were handed jail sentences ranging from three to six years for the torture, which was carried out aboard a coastguard boat that was taking migrants from a small islet to the port of Chios.

In two hours of testimony to the appeals court, the victim described what was done to him by the accused. Writing in Avgi newspaper, journalist Eleni Rousia said the victim was treated in the court as if he himself was accused of a serious crime. At one stage, when querying what could have led the coastguards to torture someone, the prosecutor asked the victim “why did you annoy them?”.

What the so-called wet and dry submarino torture involves. Sketch from the Norwegian Medical Association website

What the so-called wet and dry submarino torture involves. Sketch from the Norwegian Medical Association website

The victim’s legal team said that this was the first complaint of a “wet and dry submarino” that they had received. They also told the court that the torture had been confirmed by the Medical Rehabilitation Centre for Torture Victims.

The court also heard from seven witnesses, all colleagues of the accused. All claimed that the date of the alleged torture was an ordinary day, with one saying he only knew about the torture method from having seen it performed in films.

The coastguards’ defence lawyers spoke of a conspiracy against Greece, in which the victim was a mercenary.

In a statement issued before appeal hearing, Amnesty International called for the establishment of an independent complaints mechanism to deal with allegations against the police and coastguard.

It said the court’s decision showed it was imperative “to create a truly independent and effective complaints mechanism against arbitary behaviour by the police and to harmonise the definition of torture as provided by Article 137 (A) 2 of the Greek criminal code with international law.”

The human rights organisation noted that “for years it has received and recorded many complaints from refugees and migrants of torture or other ill-treatment at the hands of the the police or coastguard while in detention, during the Xenios Zeus [police sweep] operations and during illegal push backs on the land and sea border between Greece and Turkey.”

The incident was first documented in the report entitled “The truth may be bitter but it must be told: The situation of Refugees in the Aegean and the practices of the Greek coast guard” (pdf), which was published in 2007 by the Group of Lawyers for the Rights of Refugees and Migrants and the NGO Pro-Asyl.

[The above piece is based on an article published in Avgi on 7 November 2014]

What the victim told lawyers about his ordeal in 2007

The incident was first documented in the report entitled “The truth may be bitter but it must be told: The situation of Refugees in the Aegean and the practices of the Greek coast guard” (pdf), which was published in 2007 by the Group of Lawyers for the Rights of Refugees and Migrants and the NGO Pro-Asyl.

“Everyone was sitting on the floor and seemed terrified. There was a boy a little apart from the group. His shirt was pulled over his head. His upper body was bent far forward. I found out later that the boy was 17 years old, and that during a search they had found a knife on him. As soon as I got on the large boat, I was beaten. Several times they hit my head against the railings … I had to kneel down. One policeman stood behind me while two stood in front of me. The one behind me hit me with a stick on the head, deliberately and hard. He hit me on the crown of my head repeatedly with the stick. I tried to protect myself with my arms. Then he hit my arms. I tried to look behind me, and he started hitting me again. The two policemen in front of me were armed and showed me their weapons while I was being beaten. They looked at me very seriously. They said: ‘We are going to kill you.’ The expression on their faces was terrifying. I was very scared. The other policeman – a fat one – came up to me and said into my ear: ‘Tell the truth. These two policemen are very dangerous. They will kill you.’

“Then they brought a plastic bucket full of water. I was kneeling the whole time. ‘Do you see the water?’

“My arms were pressed together behind my back, held by one of the policemen. The other policeman put his hand on the nape of my neck and pushed my head down into the water; I couldn’t breathe anymore. I was only pulled up after some time. ‘Do you now know the colour and name of the boat?’ I said ‘no’. He punched me twice in the face. The policeman behind me grabbed my arms again. I wanted to take a deep breath of air. The policeman in front of me asked: ‘Do you remember now, or not?’ I said no again. He grabbed my head and pushed it into the water. I was absolutely terrified. I thought I would not survive. When I came up again the policeman again asked, ‘So, you don’t remember?’ I repeated that I did not.

“So then the policeman took a plastic bag and put it over my head. With one hand he tightened the bag around my neck. I couldn’t breathe anymore. They repeated the process of the plastic bag three times – every time they asked the same question. Then a policeman signalled with his hand: that’s enough.”

Coastguards to appeal conviction for torturing asylum seeker in 2007

In Greece on 5 November 2014 at 11:53 am
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What the so-called dry and wet submarino entails: sketch from the website of the Norwegian Medical Association

An Athens military court on Thursday is expected to hear an appeal by two coastguards against their conviction for torturing a Moroccan asylum seeker on the island of Chios in 2007.

Last November, Piraeus naval court found the pair guilty of having tortured their victim by restricting his breathing so as to simulate drowning and suffocation (the so-called “wet and dry submarino”), by carrying out mock execution as well as other serious attacks on human dignity.

The defendants were handed suspended jail sentences of six and three years as well as the long-term deprival of their political rights. In addition, one of the convicted coastguards was told he would be demoted upon confirmation of sentence.

The torture occurred immediately after the victim’s entry into Greece and during his transfer with other asylum seekers to the port of Chios.

The incident was first documented in the report entitled “The truth may be bitter but it must be told: The situation of Refugees in the Aegean and the practices of the Greek coast guard” (pdf), which was published in 2007 by the Group of Lawyers for the Rights of Refugees and Migrants and the NGO Pro-Asyl.

In a statement, the Group of Lawyers called on members of the public to lend their support for the victim, who will be present, by attending the appeal hearing, which is scheduled for 9am at the Supreme Military Court of Athens (1 Petrou Ralli St).

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Urgent appeal for donations to help traffic accident victim (9)

In Greece on 23 October 2014 at 12:39 pm

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The family of a young boy who suffered life-threatening injuries in a hit-and-run incident on a central Athens boulevard over two years ago has issued an urgent appeal to raise the necessary funds for specialised operations that would help him speak and feed himself again.

On 12 July 2012, David Maciorowski, who is now nine, his twin sister and his mother were razed down while walking on Patision Avenue by a motorcyclist, a permanent non-commissioned Greek Navy officer, who fled the scene before turning himself in a few hours later, at the urging of his father.

The 21-year-old, who ran a red light, had also injured a cyclist prior to ramming into the twins and their mother.

Among his serious injuries, David suffered severe damage in his mouth cavity leaving him unable to speak or feed himself properly. He is missing a substantial piece of bone in his buccal cavity and is in need of continuous and painful surgeries that have been delayed.

The first major surgical intervention was undertaken in July, thanks to the voluntary efforts of a surgeon and donations from members of the public. However, the family needs at least €20,000 to cover the cost of the other specialised operations, such as a bone transplant to the jaw, that would allow David speak again and lead a normal life.

According to reports, since the accident the Maciorowski family has received no assistance from the state nor from the family of the motorcyclist, who was released on bail after surrendering himself to police.

He was due to appear on criminal charges before a naval court martial last May, but the hearing was cancelled due to the elections held in that same month. A date for the civil case has yet to be scheduled.

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Trial over 2012 torture of Egyptian bakery worker postponed again by Greek court

In Greece on 22 October 2014 at 10:22 am
Waled Taleb waits to testify to an examining magistrate in Piraeus courthouse on November 9 (Photo: Eirini Vourloumis)

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

The trial of a baker, his son and two accomplices accused of torturing an Egyptian worker on the island of Salamina in November 2012 was postponed for the fifth time at a Piraeus court on Tuesday.

Judges at Piraeus criminal appeals court rescheduled the trial to 10 March 2015 after the court-appointed interpreter failed to show up, citing “personal reasons”.

On 4 November 2012, Walid Taleb, then 29, was found beaten black and blue on a village street on the island. He had a ring and chain around his neck. He accused his employer, his son and two accomplices of chaining him up and torturing him for 18 hours in a stable.

The four defendants are charged with abduction, robbery, inflicting unprovoked bodily harm and offending sexual dignity.

“‘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 reporter after his ordeal. He added that he was certain he would never leave the stable alive.

Walid Taleb was found beaten on a street in Salamina on 4 November 2012

Walid Taleb was found beaten on a street in Salamina on 4 November 2012

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All Golden Dawn MPs should face criminal trial, prosecutor recommends

In Greece on 17 October 2014 at 10:28 am

All 18 MPs elected with the neonazi Golden Dawn party in 2012 should stand trial for membership of a criminal organisation, a prosecutor said on Thursday, in a massive 698-page report submitted to judges.

In total, prosecutor Isidoros Dogiakos, who is handling the Golden Dawn case, recommended that 67 out of a total of 81 people accused in the case be indicted on criminal charges. As one of the accused was underage at the time, he should face the juvenile court.

Of the remaining 14 people, Dogiakos said there was insufficient evidence against nine of them but that three should face misdemeanour charges.

“A party that seeks to achieve its goals through the use of physical or armed force is not legal,” Dogiakos said in his report, stressing that the courts have the right to judge a political party as a criminal organisation.

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Family of murdered Golden Dawn member demand party stop using his image

In Greece on 15 October 2014 at 10:44 am

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The family of one of two Golden Dawn members who were shot dead in a gun attack last year is seeking a court injunction to ban the neonazi party from using his name image for political purposes.

Manos Kapelonis, 22, and Yiorgos Fountoulis, 26, were standing outside a Golden Dawn branch office in the northern Athens suburb of Neo Iraklio when a masked man opened fire, killing one on them instantly and leaving the other fatally wounded. A third man was injured in the 1 November 2013 attack.

Accoring to a report in Ethnos newspaper, Kapelonis’ parents and sister have now asked Athens first instance court to prohibit Golden Dawn from using their dead son’s name and image for political purposes, which they say is “absolutely incompatible with the nature of his beliefs and ideals and is offensive to his personality”.

The case is due to be heard on 23 November. On Tuesday, the court officials rejected to give the family a temporary injunction banning the party from using Kapelonis name and image until the case comes before court.

Since the killing, Golden Dawn has erected banners depicting Kapelonis and Fountoulis on party offices across the country as well as on a roadside billboard on highway south of Athens. Their faces also appear as backdrops in Golden Dawn televised broadcasts. Kapelonis’ family says that these giant images of their deceased loved one, which they see regularly, causes them immense emotional pain.

In May, Lampros Fountoulis, the father of Yiorgos Fountoulis, the other victim of the attack, was elected an MEP for Golden Dawn.

Two weeks after the double murder, a group styling itself as the Militant Popular Revolutionary Forces claimed responsibility for the attack, for which no one has been arrested.

Vassilis Paleokostas: Greece’s Robin Hood?

In General on 25 September 2014 at 10:27 am

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It certainly is the stuff of movies and now that an extensive and gripping feature article detailing his life, bank-robbing and kidnapping exploits and two helicopter prison escapes has appeared on the BBC, fugitive Vassilis Paleokostas (48) could certainly expect that someday his fascinating story could make it to the silver screen.

Researched and written by Los Angeles-based British journalist Jeff Maysh over many months, The Uncatchable takes an immersive approach to explain the biography of a man dubbed Greece’s Robin Hood, because of his legendary habit of distributing the proceeds of his crimes to people in need: from poor farmers, girls needing dowries and migrants.

For the article, Maysh spoke to many people who know Paleokostas, including his father, Leonidas, and Costas Samaras, aka the Artist, who was a mentor to the young Paleokostas and his brother. Alket Rizai, the Albanian hitman who fled with Paleokostas in the second helicopter escape, also spoke to Maysh from his prison cell.

The Trikala-born brigand, who remains at large, would certainly take great pleasure if a movie ever materialised, considering his life-long love for action movies, a passion that developed when his family moved down from the mountains in the 1970s and got electricity for the first time. Indeed, when police swooped in on him in 2008, they found a DVD of Ransom and the Al Pacino movie Heat, about two veteran bank robbers evading the cops.

Golden Dawn figures jailed for attempted murder

In General on 23 September 2014 at 10:38 am
Golden Dawn members outside the migrant detention centre in Corinth. Inset: Vasilis Siatounis (Photo: Ethnos.gr)

Golden Dawn members outside the migrant detention centre in Corinth in 2012. Inset: Vasilis Siatounis (Photo: Ethnos.gr)

An Athens court on Monday handed a former member of Golden Dawn’s central committee and local election candidate for the neonazi party a 11½-year prison sentence after it found him and an accomplice guilty of attempted murder and the possession and use of weapons.

The Athens mixed jury court found Vasilis Siatounis and Athanasios Stratos guilty of participating in a gang attack on the Antipnoia anarchist space in Kato Petralona on 30 June 2008, in which a Greek and a Spanish national were stabbed. Stratos received a 13½-year prison sentence for his role in the attack.

Four people were attending a Spanish language course at the centre, when a man wearing a helmet entered the room yelling “Greetings from Golden Dawn! You’re going to die, w*nkers!” He was followed by a group of 10-15 people holding knives and batons, who, following orders, set about attacking those inside, wounding two people, one of them seriously. According to the prosecutor, the room was left “covered in blood and unrecognisable” after the “cowardly invasion”.

Identifying Stratos as his assailant, one of the victims said he was hit on the head with a chair and was stabbed in the knee and buttocks. He subsequently spent 20 days in hospital and required eight blood transfusions.

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Greek island police chief snapped giving Nazi salute

In Uncategorized on 7 September 2014 at 10:58 am

Greek police office Yiorgos Kagkalos giving a Nazi salute in a German transport museum (Photo: Ethnos)

Greek police office Yiorgos Kagkalos giving a Nazi salute in a German transport museum (Photo: Ethnos)

A photograph has emerged showing the police chief of a Greek island giving a fascist salute in front of a Nazi-era train in a German museum.

In the image, published in Ethnos on Sunday, Lieutenant Yiorgos Kagkalos, chief of police on the island of Hydra, can be seen with an outstretched right arm. Behind him, on a red locomotive, is a large Reichsadler, a stylised eagle combined with the Nazi swastika used as a national emblem in Nazi Germany.

Greek police office Yiorgos Kagkalos gives a Nazi salute in a German transport museum (Photo: Ethnos)

Greek police office Yiorgos Kagkalos gives a Nazi salute in a German transport museum (Photo: Ethnos)

According to Ethnos, the photograph was taken on 13 March 2011 when Kagkalos visited the Nuremburg Transport Museum. The train appears to resemble a Elektrolokomotive E 19 12, a model of which is kept at the museum.

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Man accused of attempted murder was member of Golden Dawn’s central committee

In General on 3 September 2014 at 9:44 am

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A man accused of attempted murder following an attack on an alternative hangout in Athens in June 2008 was a member of Golden Dawn’s central committee at the time of the incident, it has emerged.

Since the attack on the Antipnoia anarchist space in Kato Petralona, in which a Greek and a Spanish national were stabbed, the accused, Vasilis Siatounis and Athanasios Stratos, claimed they were not members of the party.

But according to a list of Golden Dawn central committee members from 2008 that was published in the Efimerida ton Syntakton newspaper, Siatounis was a member of the party’s highest council when the attack occurred.

He was also a candidate for the party in the 2010 Athens municipal elections and was subsequently appointed an advisor to Nikos Michaloliakos, Golden Dawn’s leader, who became a councillor in that election.

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