Tasos Theofilou: Open letter on the commencement of his trial at the court of appeal (Greece)
On November 21st, after a nine-month postponement, my trial commences at the court of appeal. It’s been two years since the completion of my trial at the court of first instance, when I was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment for the charges of common complicity to homicide and robbery in connection with the events on Paros island on 10/8/2012. I was acquitted of participation in CCF as well as of direct perpetration of homicide by a majority opinion. It was a political (not judicial) compromise and a result of conflict between the manipulation of this particular case by the police in cooperation with the mainstream media during the first days after my arrest, on the one hand, and the lack of any evidence, along with the solidarity expressed by the audience and the reaction of independent media, on the other. Thereof emerged the temporary Solomonic solution of my partial acquittal of the charges, deferring the prospect of a conclusive decision until a trial at the court of appeal.
Apart from the appeal initiated by myself, in which I upheld a full acquittal of all charges, there was also one more appeal, as of right, initiated by a gentleman called Δράκος [Dragon] –namely, a public prosecutor whose surname obviously adds further symbolism to the witch-hunt orchestrated by the Counter-terrorism Service. Eventually, the division of opinion between the presiding judge, Mr. Hatziathanasiou, – who voted for my conviction for all charges- and the two other members of the court – who chose the more moderate option that eventually prevailed- made room for further manipulation.
Mr. Δράκος, it would seem, felt that 25 years of imprisonment based on no evidence is not enough and went on to turn my trial at the court of appeal into a repetition of the initial trial. His appeal even dismissed that Solomonic decision on my partial acquittal and opened up the possibility of me not being fully acquitted or even facing a sentence harsher than life imprisonment.
I believe that the event of my arrest, its manipulation by the mainstream media, my detention and my initial conviction highlighted certain issues that do not have to do with me personally, but bear a wider social and political importance, since it is a manifestation of how a ruthless police state attempts to solidify the most extremist doctrines of judicial repression: from the medieval nature of my public castigation and the attempt to squeeze pre-modern criminal stereotypes into a fabricated profile, to the criminalization of friendship, comradeship or social relationships, as well as the use of supernatural or pseudoscientific evidence such as the notorious DNA on a hat, which forms the basis of this, otherwise tragic, story.
This latter aspect- that is, of the uncontrollable use of DNA- is one of the core issues that emerged and was to some extent restricted after the hunger strike of the members of the Network of Imprisoned Fighters. In any case, the question that arises is how the Department of Forensic Examinations (DFE) can possibly base their reports (and consequently how the court can possibly validate these reports through their decisions) on the STR method in order to identify offenders, when the developer of this method himself states that it should only be used to disqualify suspects and clearly not for identification purposes. How is it possible that this method is still used in Greece, when in the United States, the country that first introduced it in 1980, it’s been deemed unreliable given that the number of errors has soared throughout the years? How is it possible that the laboratories of the DFE received an ISO certification only in 2014 while hundreds of people (myself included) had been charged and convicted based on examinations that were conducted in uncertified laboratories?
In my case, however, there are some more specific circumstances that reveal an unrefined manipulation, since the one and only piece of evidence my conviction is based on is some genetic material detected on a hat- one that supposedly fell off a robber’s head while he was fleeing away. Furthermore it happens to be a 100 percent match to my genetic type. There are two important details, though: …Nothing can substantiate the fact that a hat fell off the perpetrators; the photos of the crime scene taken by the police have captured every detail of the scene, including snapshots of metal jackets and gun bullets and even glasses and mobile phone covers. However, no picture of this notorious hat seems to exist. In contrast, the hat makes its appearance in the photos of the findings taken at the Police Department of Attica (PDA) while, based on the documents provided, it appears to have been sent to the PDA by the Police Department of Paros by post, on a different date and following a route different from the rest of the findings. Despite the manipulative questions formed by the presiding judge, Mr. Hatziathanasiou, and despite the illegal and admitted “preparation course” provided by the prosecution (a fact that Mr. Hatziathanasiou chose to gloss over with his sarcastic statement “no worries, this happens sometimes”) even the prosecution witnesses’ accounts contained so many inconsistencies the very existence of this hat never did manage to be proven. Secondly, the DFE report, which magically concludes that my DNA is a 100 percent match to that on the finding, states that the inner side of the hat was tested with the use of cotton swabs, but fails to specify the type of tissue tested. Actually, it does not even mention if the tested sample was sweat, blood, sperm, skin cells, saliva or something else. The significance of this detail is expected to be known to even a first year biology student, and even more so to a chief executive of the DFE. As a matter of fact, the report submitted by the DFE, which follows me in all the stages of this judicial procedure, from the interrogation, to the court of appeal, is brazenly inconclusive and in reality, compares my DNA sample (which was collected by means of violence at the Counter-terrorism Service premises) not to some other specified tissue but, literally, to thin air. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that this method revealed a 100 percent match. And this is yet another reason why none of the DFE “scientists” dared to appear at court as witnesses to defend their bizarre theories. Because, had they done so, we would have come to the conclusion that even taro cards are more reliable than the DNA methods used by the DFE.
My arrest is part of a determinate crusade against the anarchist movement, launched and further orchestrated by the “Law & Order” lobby of the country: journalist milieus, the Counter-terrorism Service, prosecution investigators and wannabe Supreme-Court judges. It is a crusade that dates back to 2009, when the dismantlement of CCF was put forward as a pretext. An “unfilled vacancy” arose from the case of Nea Smirni back in 2010. A vacancy that the Counter-terrorism Unit thought I “rightfully deserved”, when in August 2012 a citizen was fatally injured in his attempt to prevent the escape of the robbers of Alpha Bank in Naousa of Paros Island. They based my “informed appointment” on an actual meeting I’d had back then [in 2010] with my friend and comrade Kostas Sakkas at an eatery in the neighborhood of Kallithea, as well as on an imaginary meeting with the, then [in 2010] unknown to me but now comrade, friend and co-prisoner, Giorgos Karagiannides. It was a golden opportunity to slander the anarchist movement by profiling it as a mob of ruthless and bloodthirsty individuals.
It took the mobilization of all the mainstream media outlets broadcasting my arrest exclusively for a week, striving to make the scenario appear plausible for a few days. For an entire week they denounced me and presented me as a ruthless murderer. All my photos went viral on the internet while my commission to the courts on Loukareos and Evelpidon streets, respectively, were broadcast live on all TV channels. In the name of “Law and Order”, judges, the media and the police violated all my rights and disgraced the famed presumption of innocence in every possible way. The media-cannibalism I was subject to breached the aesthetic limits of even the post-modern dark age we now find ourselves in. Of course, it was not just the authority of the media that pursued my conviction, by means of abusing even my written works and my private life, “cramming” criminal stereotypes into my fabricated profile (especially that of the paranoid murderer); Jurisdiction followed suit, as well. It’s precisely the enforcement of media-authority, after all, that made the lack of any evidence appear as insignificant. Even the provocative statement at court: “Who knows, perhaps this man was not at the robbery”, which came from the then-commissioner of the Counter-terrorism Service, Mr. Hardalias, was thought of as less of a scandal and more of a statement that shouldn’t be noted in the minutes. It is a scandal because it was not just a statement that came out of his mouth spontaneously. It was a display of the power of a man and the service he represents in the space and time of a public trial. It is a scandal because he chose this arrogant way to manifest the absolute power that his service enjoys. He actually implied with cynicism: “I don’t care if he was or wasn’t at the robbery. I don’t care about minor issues like evidence. I have my reasons to want him in prison. And he shall be in prison”. This development came as no surprise given that the suppression of the anarchist movement had been assigned to the Counter-terrorism Service as its sole and exclusive responsibility.
[The Counter-terrorism Service is] a police service that enjoys provocatively preferential treatment by the media, to the degree that crime news informs case files and is considered valid evidence of guilt. Of course, we shouldn’t have expected much more from the presiding judge, Mr. Hatziathanasiou, whose argumentation for my conviction for all charges went as far as to include the fact that I tend to use an electric razor -not a blade- during the freezing winter in Korydallos prison (meaning that, since one perpetrator appears to have no facial hair on the pictures taken by CCTV cameras and since he’s disguised, then it’s certainly me!). He also felt the need to include that I haven’t served in the army or that I haven’t read Genet’s books. Needless to say he concurred with the draftsman of my crime indictment, that my collection of fiction stories “Παρανουαρικό” [“Paranoir”] as well as the crime reportage found in tabloid press of poorest quality, such as “Proto Thema”, should be considered valid substantiating documents of my guilt. Likewise, we shouldn’t be taken aback by the prosecutor, Mrs. Oikonomou’s, attitude. She simply thought it was… appropriate or even in line with her responsibilities perhaps, to nap during most of the proceedings. Therefore it comes as no surprise that she ended up reciting the document of my indictment when she was called to declaim her proposal.
These were, more or less, the conditions of my trial at the court of first instance, when the political circumstances had placed the anti-terrorism witch-hunt at the top of the previous far-right government’s agenda; when the minister of Justice and former public prosecutor, Mr. Athanasiou (well, only Herodes the Great’s appointment in the Ministry of Education would be more enterprising than a public prosecutor’s appointment as minister of Justice), had announced his intentions to introduce high-security prisons for terrorists within the first 100 days of his appointment; when the Counter-Terrorism Unit continued their arrests on a daily basis, forcing Kostas Sakkas, in reality, to become a fugitive.
Today the political circumstances are different and, even if the new government in power is in charge of implementing ruthless austerity policies, its audience is more progressive, which means the antiterrorism /anticrime/ anti-immigration pledges are not put forward as top priorities (at least not on a symbolic level). The government has symbolically (if not actually) invested in the repression of white collar crime. This is the case despite the Ministry of Justice’s reluctance to openly confront the “Law and Order” lobby of the country; despite the deceitful tactics of the Ministry of Justice to vote for seemingly progressive laws and simultaneously use wording that allow judges to evade their imposition; despite the fact that they don’t dare ensure that the rule of law applies in jurisdiction- a jurisdiction which remains provocatively unregulated and entitled to extreme fundamentalist conceptualization, interpretation and abuse of the monstrous article 177 of the Criminal Procedure Law. This is related to the discretion thesis, which overtly enables jurisdiction to be answerable not to what the law prescribes but on their own sordid and vile personal ethics alone- ethics that only Pontius Pilatus would feel at ease with.
These are the circumstances and these are the facts. I see my legal battle against all charges at the court of appeal as part of a wider battle against a ruthless police state, against judicial repression and its extremist doctrines. It is a bizarre existential battle in which adjudicators and prosecutors are parts of a single body- that of jurisdiction.
As I did at the court of first instance, I would like to highlight yet again that I don’t pledge innocence and I will not plead with any judge to believe me. I am not innocent. In the class war, I’ve chosen a side. I stand with the underprivileged and the suppressed, the marginalized and the prosecuted, the transgressors and the accursed. I decided to take political action in the anarchist movement with the admittedly ambitious goal to strike the social, political and economic foundations of capitalism and its state. However, I denied, I deny and will deny again all the accusations of the actions they’ve charged me with. I never was a member of the CCF, I didn’t participate in this robbery and, above all, I never killed and wouldn’t have ever been capable of killing an unarmed citizen for any reason or under any circumstances.
For anarchy, for communism
This entry was posted on Thursday, December 8th, 2016 at 5:46 pm and is filed under Prison Struggle.