Archive | February 13, 2011

The bad news: New arrests in Greece

From Klinamen (various dates):

On October 13, 2010, after torching a number of vehicles belonging to Greek state electrical company DEI in Thessaloniki, 19-year-old comrade Yiannis Skouloudis was arrested. He admitted responsibility for the arson and was locked up in Avlona Prison. The pigs then issued arrest warrants for four comrades—Dimitris Fessas, Dimitris Dimitsiadis, Haralambos Stylianidis, and Sokratis Tzifkas—believed to be  Skouloudis’ accomplices. They chose the dignified path of going into hiding, but during the afternoon of January 13, 2011, the counterterrorism unit raided a house in the Vyronas neighborhood of Athens and arrested all four of them. Another house is the Tavros neighborhood was also searched. According to the police, they found an AK-47, bullets, four false identification cards, and the draft of a supposed communiqué saved on one of the confiscated computers. Based on this “evidence,” and unable to link the four to any attacks other than the DEI arson, the pigs began talking about a “new terrorist organization that still hadn’t gone into action, yet was planning a number of bloody attacks.” Since Skouloudis and the other four were mentioned in a recent Fire Cells Conspiracy communiqué, the police suggested that they had uncovered a “new offshoot of the Fire Cells Conspiracy.”

In any event, Fessas, Dimitsiadis, Stylianidis, and Tzifkas were subjected to terrible beatings, but they refused to enter a plea in front of the pigs or the judges, saying only: “We will not enter a plea. We are revolutionaries and anarchists.” They also refused to have their pictures and fingerprints taken, but the pigs managed to do both by force. Ultimately, all four were brought to Thessaloniki, where the prosecutor decided to confirm their imprisonment for the DEI arson. They were then returned to Athens, where the prosecutor and judge unanimously reconfirmed their imprisonment, adding charges of “weapons possession” and “forming a terrorist group.” Yet again, an attempt is being made to criminalize the comradely and friendly relationships of those who are “tainted” and those who aren’t.

Fessas, Dimitsiadis, Stylianidis, and Tzifkas, who range in age from 21 to 23, were finally brought to Korydallos Prison in Athens. Their contact information will be included in the next updated list of Greek anarchist prisoners.

At noon on January 26, DIAS squad pigs in Kifissia decided to search two people who they felt looked suspicious. One managed to escape, leading to a multiple-hour helicopter search, while the other—23-year-old Michalis Nikolopoulos—was arrested. In his possession were a Glock 9mm handgun, a spare magazine, a hand grenade, and a false identity card. It was later revealed that, because his fingerprints were among those found at Haris Hatzimichelakis’ apartment, Nikolopoulos had been wanted by the police since September 2009 on charges of belonging to the Fire Cells Conspiracy. He is being charged for the same three attacks that the other 12 comrades are currently on trial for, as well as the November 1, 2010 mailing of package-bombs that led to the arrests of Panayiotis Argyrou and Gerasimos Tsakalos. On January 28, the prosecutor and judges unanimously decided to imprison Nikolopoulos, who refused to enter a plea or participate in the proceedings. The next day, the police raided a house in the Nea Chalkidona neighborhood that was supposedly rented using Nikolopoulos false identity card, but they found nothing. It remains to be seen whether Nikolopoulos will be included in the Fire Cells Conspiracy trial currently underway, but he has already released a statement in which he admits to being a member of the group.

There are still three comrades at large in the Fire Cells Conspiracy case. Nikolopoulos’ brother and another person have had warrants out for their arrest since September 2009, while Gerasimos Tsakalos’ older brother was named in an arrest warrant issued in November 2010, just a few days after his younger brother’s arrest.

At 1:30 p.m. on January 31, an armed robbery took place in Thessaloniki. Two people entered the (state) Youth Center located in the Neapoli neighborhood, where an auction was being held for vehicles seized by the traffic police, and managed to get away with over 35,000 euros. Minutes later, near the site of the auction, DIAS squad pigs surrounded the motorcycle of 23-year-old comrade Rami Syrianos. In his possession were a loaded CZ 75B handgun, a hand grenade, and a leather case containing loot from the robbery: almost 36,000 euros in cash, two checks (one for 530 euros and the other for 2000 euros), and 83 receipts issued by the organizers of the auction.

Shortly thereafter, undercover police arrested another comrade—28-year-old Kleomenis Savvanidis, supposedly identified as the second “culprit”—near his home. Searches of the homes of both comrades and another woman followed, with the police swiping computers, phone cards, flash drives, an airsoft pistol, “manuscripts and drafts of documents with anarchist content,” etc.

Several mass media outlets ran photos of Syrianos and Savvanidis, as well as a “secure and anonymous” phone number for snitching. Both men are facing the same felony charges of “forming a criminal enterprise” and “armed robbery,” as well as the less serious charges of “weapons possession,” “possession of criminal proceeds,” “fostering criminality,” “resisting arrest,” etc.

Savvanidis’ colleagues released an open letter refuting the police accusations and asserting that Savvanidis was working at Aristotle University’s self-managed cafeteria in Thessaloniki at the time of the robbery. The letter mentions that security guards, cleaning staff, professors, and students can all confirm that Savvanidis was at the cafeteria from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Reference is also made to eyewitnesses who supposedly saw a robber “roughly between 1.65 and 1.70 meters tall” and “positively identified” Savvanidis, who happens to be 1.84 meters tall.

On February 3, Syrianos and Savvanidis were brought before the judges. A number of witnesses took the stand, including a university professor who testified that at the time of the robbery Savvanidis was at the cafeteria. Savvanidis was released without bail, but as a preventive measure will not be allowed to leave the country. Meanwhile, Syrianos refused to enter a plea, saying only: “I put my rejection of wage-labor into practice.” He was placed in pretrial detention at Ioannina Prison.

Translated letters, statements, and communiqués from and in solidarity with Greek anarchist prisoners, including many of those mentioned above, can be found at the excellent Act for Freedom Now! blog.

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