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GREEK HELSINKI MONITOR (GHM)
Address: P.O. Box 60820, GR-15304 Glyka Nera
Telephone: (+30) 2103472259 - Fax: (+30) 2106018760

E-mail: office@greekhelsinki.gr - Website: http://cm.greekhelsinki.gr/


PRESS RELEASE

Greek Helsinki Monitor Spokesperson attacked after deposition in neo-Nazis’ trial

December 27, 2007

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Greek Helsinki MonitorGreek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) informs about the extensive attacks against and prosecution of GHM and Jewish activists who had filed criminal actions against Greece’s neo-Nazis for the latter’s Hitler-admiring, Holocaust-denial, anti-Semitic writings. GHM notes that no media, human rights NGO, political party or other institution reported these incidents, let alone condemn them. On the contrary, there were several cases of appeals for the acquittal of the neo-Nazis on the basis of freedom of expression. They included an article by Costis Papaioannou, President of the Greek National Commission for Human Rights, writing in that capacity and on the eve of the trial’s completion (see http://cm.greekhelsinki.gr/index.php?sec=192&cid=3202 in Greek). Indeed, on 13 December 2007, the prosecutor read his entire article and based on it her motion for acquittal of the neo-Nazis, calling their work “scholarly” and blaming the Jews for their refusal to engage into a debate with them. The Second Three-Member Appeals Court of Athens, later that day, did not follow the prosecutor, and by a two to one majority convicted to a suspended prison sentence of 14 months one of the defendants, lawyer Kostas Plevris, for incitation to racial violence and hatred and for racial insults. The other three defendants, publisher, editor, and journalist of neo-Nazi weekly “Eleftheros Kosmo” were acquitted of the same charges. Kostas Plevris appealed and the resulting trial is expected to be held in 2008. Their indictment with the full charges is available at: http://cm.greekhelsinki.gr/index.php?sec=194&cid=3176.

It is recalled that the relevant court brief was drawn up ex officio following a complaint report filed by GHM with the Head of the Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Athens Court of First Instance, on 30 October 2006, for anti-Semitic articles published in “Eleftheros Kosmos” on 27 October 2006 in conjunction with the book by Kostas Plevris, “The Jews – The whole truth”, which was published in May 2006. At the preliminary examination, GHM’s specialist on anti-Semitism, Andrea Gilbert, and the leadership of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece (Kentriko Israilitiko Symvoulio or KIS) filed complaints with constitution of civil claimant status. Also, the Anti-Nazi Initiative (Antinazistiki Protovoulia) filed an analytical memorandum in the form of a supplementary complaint report. All these parties were summoned as prosecution witnesses in the trial. The latter was first scheduled for 5 September. It was postponed for 11 September, when an incomplete first hearing was held. It was then rescheduled anew for, and started on, 3 December. There were two more hearings on 4 and 13 December. In both sets of hearings, the court expelled the Jewish civil claimants (of GHM and KIS), considering that individual Jews cannot claim direct victim status as a result of anti-Semitim speech. KIS wrote that, in the 11 September hearing, prevailed an “unprecedented for Greek justice anti-Jewish climate” that turned it into an “anti-Jewish trial” (http://cm.greekhelsinki.gr/index.php?sec=194&cid=3191). KIS, in a 14 December document, called the 13 December hearing, when defense witnesses were examined, defendants gave statements and their lawyers pleaded, “a sad day for world Jewry and especially for those who were present in court listening to anti-Semitic propaganda in 21st-century Greece.” While the “Ios” (Virus) investigative team in the daily “Eleftherotypia”, wrote on 9 December about the 3 and 4 December hearings: “Recital of Nazism from the Appeals Court bench. The second trial of Talmud. A trial in 2007 Athens brings us back to the European Middle Ages of the 13th century but mostly to the Holocaust horrors that scarred the 20th century.” ( http://www.enet.gr/online/online_print?id=3568448,11458752,16854592).

On 4 December 2007, GHM’s Spokesperson Panayote Dimitras testified at that trial. Already during his testimony, Kostas Plevris and his lawyer verbally attacked the witness, to draw warnings from the presiding judge, who also interrupted the hearing for ten minutes so as the lawyer cools down. As soon as his testimony was finished, he was attacked by Theodoros Varikos, journalist at the state television channel NET. Varikos called Dimitras “scallywag (????????? ??????),” “scum (???????)”, “karagiozi (shadow theater figure – as an insult it means ridiculous)” and tried to strike him with his hand, only to be stopped by others. Police stood by during the entire incident. Although this happened right in front of the bench while the court was still in session, the presiding judge did not order the arrest of the assailant for disruption of court proceedings and attempted unprovoked insult by deeds. He merely suggested to GHM’s Spokesperson to go to the police station and file a complaint for defamation against the journalist. While in the process of doing so, Panayote Dimitras was told by police that he will be arrested along with Theodoros Varikos, as the latter would file a counter-complaint. In view of this moral blackmail by the authorities, GHM’s Spokesperson decided no to file a complaint. In the evening of that day, a video was uploaded on “youtube” by a member of the extreme rightwing party LAOS –represented in both Greek and European Parliaments - (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zj0W4jz9t0A), showing from a distance the attack against Panayote Dimitras with the title “dramatic closure of the trial today.” GHM notes that videotaping without permission in a trial is another ex officio prosecutable offense. Below the video, insults but also death threats were posted: “no need to insult him; Mr. Dimitras needs something else, something that will rid us from his presence once and for all;” “well you had Dimitras in front of you and did not lynch him?” There were also anti-Semitic posts: “death to the Jewish bastards; no Jew should remain in our country and the whole world; let us turn them into soap NOW;” “give me their names and I will break their back so they won’t enter the courtroom again;” “fucking Jews your time will come.” Then, after the verdict, on 13 December, in the Internet forum of the LAOS youth organization NEOS, there were more threatening posts againt Pamayote Dimitras: (at http://www.neos-forum.com/viewtopic.php?t=3974&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=45) “I should remind Dimitras that his power won’t be eternal and I should remind him of the end of once powerful Queen of France Marie-Antoinette;” “Dimitras and Marie-Antoinette have the same unavoidable end;” “I agree. All traitors in the end get what they deserve.”

This was not an isolated series of incidents. From the time the defendants were first summoned to testify in the preliminary investigation, in December 2006 all the way up to and after the trial, they engaged in a series of insulting, defamatory, threatening and often racist statements -in extreme right newspapers, but also in at least one television channel, “Extra 3”- against GHM activists Panayote Dimitras and Andrea Gilbert and the four KIS Board Members Moses Konstantinis, Benjamin Albala, Abraham Reitan, and Leon Gavriilidis who had testified against them.

Moreover, Kostas Plevris launched a series of legal actions against them, claiming he was defamed by their complaints. To date he has filed one lawsuit seeking a compensation of 200,000 euros from each of these six individuals. He has also filed two more lawsuits. One against Panayote Dimitras and Greek Helsinki Monitor, again seeking a compensation of 200,000 euros from each, for a previous GHM statement on Plevris’ incriminating book. And another against the four journalists of the Ios team, the newspaper “Eleftherotypia” and its publisher and editor seeking again 200,000 euros from each of the seven persons or newspaper sued. These lawsuits invariably repeat Plevris’ anti-Semitic statements. Moreover, against GHM’s Andrea Gilbert, a well-known Jewish and LGBT activist, Plevris has filed for interim measures seeking to freeze her assets, in anticipation of his lawsuit. Although all these lawsuits are abusive, also because of the racist anti-Semitic and homophobic statements in them, the Greek courts have registered them and have set trial dates for them in 2007 and 2008.

Besides, Kostas Plevris has filed a criminal complaint for defamation and perjury against the two GHM and four KIS activists who filed complaints against him. He has also filed a complaint against GHM and NGOs in general claiming they are redundant, illegal and implying they are foreign agents. His complaints include again racist and defamatory comments. Nevertheless, the Chief Prosecutor of the First Instance Court of Athens and in one case the Chief Prosecutor of the Appeals Misdemeanors Court of Athens have decided that these criminal complaints are not completely unfounded, in which case they should have been archived, but launched instead preliminary criminal investigations.

Finally, Kostas Plevris collected all these legal documents and published them in a second book entitled “The Struggle for Truth.” The latter is obviously anti-Semitic and racist, but also defamatory for the GHM and KIS activists and the “Eleftherotypia” journalists. In addition, as the legal documents are published in full, the addresses of those he sued are also printed.

GHM concludes by recalling that none of these actions against the activists of GHM and KIS has ever been reported in the Greek press (except in the extreme right papers) and no one has in any way condemned them. Combined with the anti-Semitic climate that prevailed in the trial and the acquittal of several defendants, it is obvious that racism and in particular anti-Semitism is considered in Greece part of the mainstream opinions that need enjoy freedom of expression even when they incite to violence or hatred. On the other hand, activists who fight against those views and try to have Greece implement its related international commitments and consequent domestic legislation are considered unwelcome, whereas their resulting persecution and prosecution appears to be welcome.

     
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