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February 10, 2013
February 10, 2013

Greece: Torture continued…

Author: Anna Papoutsi
Category: Antifascism
This article is also available in: eselpt-ptfr
Greece: Torture continued…

On Friday, February the 1st, following a police chase but without any sort of resistance or struggle, the police arrested four out of eight attempted bank robbers of Kozani, Nikos Romanos, Dimitris-Andreas Bourzoukos, Yiannis Michailidis and Dimitris Politis; they call themselves anarchists and they consider their action purely political. Nikos Romanos is actually a close friend of Alexandros Grigoropoulos –the 15-year-old student shot dead by a policeman in December 2008– and was with him the day of his murder.

The next day, Greek society watched in shock as they were being transported abused to the court despite the deplorable efforts by the Police to photoshop away the signs of abuse from the mug shots they disclosed to the press.

Velventos Listeia tesseris sullifthentes

The detainees have refused to file a complaint: “Regarding our torturing by the forces of repression, we do not want this to comprise a point for our victimisation. We expected nothing less from the enemies of freedom. Let’s not forget how many people have been crushed inside their police stations and their prisons“. On the other hand, according to the Internal Affairs Agency of the Police, the injuries occurred during the arrest: “these policemen [Motorcycle police] are above average size. They are robust and taut and in case of struggle, it is logical that they will prevail. When one goes out to fight one should have muscles”.

First of all, the practice of disclosing the names and photos of suspects is controversial, to say the least. It is a measure allowed in special circumstances and only in cases that is required for crime solving or protecting the public and only if the above cannot be achieved by any other means. It is an extreme measure that infringes the presumption of innocence and offends the personality of the accused stigmatising them as criminals before their trial. Moreover, the disclosure of mug shots of offenders that have already been arrested, violates the constitutionally guaranteed principle of proportionality, a general principle of law and order, which requires “the existence of a reasonable relationship between any measure and the intended purpose”. In other words, the punishment cannot be more severe than the crime committed and the violence used during arrest should be minimal and reasonable. The fact that this practice of disclosing mug shots has been applied in a highly selective fashion –it has never been applied in cases of very serious crimes with an “extreme right scent”– confirms that it is ultimately being used to intimidate. Unfortunately, though, it is a common practice for police and judicial authorities in Greece.

There is of course the extremely serious issue of the abuse of the detained as the police is informally but cynically ‘confessing’ by disclosing these photographs. The ostentatiously amateurish effort to conceal the marks of torture and the pathetic excuse of the minister “so that they are recognisable” make the confession all the more cynical since he basically admits that in the hands of the police, the detained become unrecognisable without drawing any penalty or investigation.

It seems that many are willing to accept massive discounts with respect to human and civil rights in the name of security. The Minister of Justice words are indicative, “when there is a scuffle with armed with Kalashnikovs robbers, one cannot be holding flowers”. However, security is not an abstract good related only to public order. Security is a fundamental right and one that cannot be protected through violence and authoritarianism.


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Greece: Torture continued… by Anna Papoutsi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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