Updates on anarchist prisoners in Greece (November 2, 2010)
Ilias Nikolau is free
Comrade Ilias Nikolau, after submitting a petition for release during his October 21 hearing at the court of appeals, has been freed on 15,000 euros bail. Nikolau was arrested on January 13, 2009 and charged with planting an incendiary device at the Evosmos police station in Thessaloniki. On December 4, 2009, he was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison. Keep in mind that Nikolau and three other comrades are scheduled for yet another trial. In November 2007, Vangelis Botzatzis was arrested in Thessaloniki and charged with a number of arsons. Arrest warrants were also issued for three of Botzatzis’ comrades—Nikolau, Costas Halazas, and Dimitra Sirianou—and all three went into hiding. Botzatzis was released on probation in October 2008, while his three comrades—after spending almost a year underground—showed up at a police station on November 14, 2008 (in the middle of weeks of massive protest in Greek prisons), accompanied by hundreds of people showing solidarity. The next day, all three were released pending trial on 2000 euros bail each, but Nikolau fell into the enemy’s hands for the Evosmos arson two months later.
Another comrade in prison
In the early morning of October 13, a van belonging to the Public Power Corporation (DEI) was torched in downtown Thessaloniki using an incendiary device made out of camping gas canisters, gasoline, and a fuse. The vehicle was completely incinerated, but 19-year-old comrade Yiannis Skouloudis was arrested “in flagrante delicto” (“caught red-handed”). That very morning, the same police-media operation we’ve seen so many times began: Pigs raided the homes of comrades and family members, seizing computers, flash drives, and anarchist literature, while reporters celebrated the authorities’ “resounding success.” But the prosecutors and judges didn’t stop there. According to them, “there must be an organization,” so four arrest warrants were issued the next day. Four comrades, ranging in age from 19 to 22, went into hiding. On Friday, October 15, people assembled in solidarity in front of the courthouse where Skouloudis was being arraigned. Minor clashes broke out between comrades and police inside and outside the courthouse, with injuries on both sides (including to Skouloudis’ mother). The courthouse and a nearby police van had windows broken. On Monday, October 18, Skouloudis appeared before a judge and took responsibility for the DEI van arson, but he refused to testify about anything else. The next morning, he was transferred to the Avlona Special Detention Center for Minors, where Panayiotis Masouras is currently locked up on charges stemming from the Fire Cells Conspiracy case.
The Revolutionary Struggle case
For quite some time, the Revolutionary Struggle case has been the hands of prosecutor Constantinos Baltas, who is also handling the Fire Cells Conspiracy case and seems intent on advancing his career by “fighting terrorism.” In recent weeks, he has called some 45 witnesses to give depositions. Most of the witnesses are related to the case through fingerprints found in the homes of the six defendants (Constantinos “Costas” Gournas, Nikolaos “Nikos” Maziotis, Panayiota “Pola” Roupa, Christoforos Kortesis, Sarantos Nikitopoulos, and Evangelos “Vangelis” Stathopoulos) and anarchist Lambros Fountas, who was killed by police in March. Some of the witnesses have already passed through Baltas’ office (and according to them, the depositions were mostly about the prosecutor attempting to verify their psycho-socio-political profile), while others still have appointments pending. Two comrades have refused to show up entirely, and they published open letters (here and here) explaining their decisions, which thus far haven’t yielded any negative repercussions. However, four people were shocked to learn that they weren’t being called as witnesses but as “members of Revolutionary Struggle.” One is Gournas’ partner Maria Beraha, who is the mother of his 22-month-old twins, while another is well-known anarchist Nikos Malapanis, who is friends with some of the defendants. This obvious attempt to criminalize the milieu of family and friends was met with a collective response on November 1, when some 200 people showed up outside the courthouse to shout slogans in solidarity with the prisoners. Meanwhile, Beraha and Malapanis have asked for extensions and will be deposed on November 11.
The Fire Cells Conspiracy case
On October 27, more or less six months after her arrest, Konstantina “Nina” Karakatsani appeared at the Athens court of appeals. According to Greek law, after a prisoner spends six months in preventive detention, a committee of appellate court judges has to decide whether or not to extend the detention. A small group of comrades and family was there to greet Karakatsani with slogans of solidarity. There was some jostling and scuffling with riot police, who were in charge of pushing people on to the sidewalk. Four people were arrested, two of whom were released the following day (mostly with “nuisance” charges like “insulting an officer” and “resisting authority”). When members of the Anti-Terrorist Squad escorted Karakatsani from the courthouse to the transport van, those who were there could see her smiling, which was the best possible response to our greetings and slogans. Despite the fact that the judges’ decision (whether positive or negative) always takes a few days, and even the lawyers aren’t notified on the same day as the court, a maggot reporter from the most popular news blog in Greece immediately posted a story that “it has been decided to extend Konstantina Karakatsani’s preventive detention for another six months.” In any case, the trial of the case’s three (for now) defendants (Karakatsani, Harilaos “Haris” Hatzimichelakis, and Panayiotis “Takis” Masouras) will most likely take place in January 2011, and not in two weeks as was previously expected.
Tuberculosis epidemic in Kerkyra Prison
A tuberculosis epidemic broke out two weeks ago in Kerkyra Prison, which is located on the island of Corfu in the Ionian Sea. Polykarpos Georgiadis is one of the prisoners currently locked up at Kerkyra. Many prisoners have been infected and brought to the hospital. The causes of the epidemic are obvious: The infected inmates weren’t quarantined; the prison administration decided to “recycle” protective surgical masks, thus spreading the infection, instead of throwing them out after a single use; and the lack of hygiene and medical attention, which is symptomatic of all Greek prisons, has reached monstrous proportions at Kerkyra. Kerkyra was built by the English at the beginning of the 19th century, and it is the oldest prison in Greece. It might even be the oldest prison in Europe. It was constructed in the form of a panopticon, and its solitary confinement cells are underground, windowless, narrow, and low-ceilinged, with walls covered in mold from the humidity. After spending time in Kerkyra’s basement punishment cells, more than a few prisoners have “gone crazy” and committed suicide.
Updates to the prisoner list
Ilias Nikolau can be removed from the list published two weeks ago.
The new address for Costas Gournas, who was finally transferred closer to his family in Athens after a successful 23-day hunger strike, is:
Constantinos “Costas” Gournas
Dikastiki Filaki Koridallou-ST pteryga
T.K. 18110 Korydallos
The two comrades charged with the Psachna bank robbery need to be added to the list:
Dikastiki Filaki Koridallou-A pteryga
T.K. 18110 Korydallos
Dikastiki Filaki Koridallou-A pteryga
T.K. 18110 Korydallos
Also, the comrade who took responsibility for torching the DEI van needs to be added:
Eidiko Katastima Kratisis Neon Avlona
Still missing are the addresses of the two comrades charged with the August bank robbery on the island of Rhodes. Also, arrest warrants are currently in effect for 11 people from the anarchist milieu: five for the Fire Cells Conspiracy case; four considered by the authorities to be Yiannis Skouloudis’ accomplices; plus Marios Seisidis and Grigoris Tsironis, who are accused of participating in the same bank robbery as Yiannis Dimitrakis and have been at large since 2006 (with a price on their heads).