If only one comment could include the essence of everything that went on during the fourth hearing of the trial of the anarchist-communist Tasos Theofilou at the Appellate Court of Athens on Friday February 3d , then that would be one the defendant’s counsel Annie Papparousou had made, summarizing that “the defendant’s arrest occurred at the suggestion of counter-terrorism police and was not evidence-based.”
Indeed, the examination of two high-ranking officials of the counter-terrorism police, which participated in the spying of, among others, Sakkas and Karagiannides, and claim to have recognized Theofilou as an unidentified male who met with the two men in Kallithea and Agrinio long before his detention and arrest in August 2012, reveals that no illegal acts were committed while Theofilou was being watched by the police. This is why he was never placed under arrest. Moreover, there was no evidence of his connection with the organization Conspiracy of Cells of Fire.
Two more prosecution witnesses testified on Friday: Tasos’ landlord from Lamia and an eye-witness who saw the embroilment among the victim, Demetris Michas, with one of the robbers on the 10th of August 2012. None of the two revealed any incriminating piece of information against the prosecuted anarchist, a fact that infuriated the prosecutor and the civil party. The aggressive treatment of one of the witnesses by the prosecution, was very shocking, since the verbal attack the witness was subjected to clearly served the purpose of intimidation.
“I was the leader of the surveillance team. It was in the morning, 10:00-11:00 am. We went to reinforce the officers who were already there. This person was unknown to us (note: referring to Theofilou). After two days, the same person was spotted getting off a bus in Agrinio. I saw him myself. Karagiannides got off, then the defendant followed and remained close-by, before taking off. He was not followed by the team in order to lose our cover. When he was detained on the 18th of August 2012, I saw him again and recognized him immediately, as the person who had not been identified back then. I’m sure it was him,” testified Bagatelas, high-ranking official of the counter terrorism.
Prosecutor: Was he carrying any luggage?
Witness: He had a small bag strapped onto his waist which made us suspicious. He did not go near the luggage area. He turned around and looked towards him. He only took off when Karagiannides left.
Prosecutor: Had you read his internet posts?
Witness: He claims to have been an anarchist/anti-authoritarian, but that does not mean anything.
Presiding Judge: Did he have a beard?
Witness: Not very long, he was just unshaven.
Papadakis-defence counsel: How many hours were you watching him on that afternoon? (note: 28/11/2010)
Witness: Two hours. We were ordered to watch these persons. We had located a black car Sakkas had come out of. Mr. Chardalias, leader and co-ordinator of that operation, had given us the information.
Papadakis: This piece of information about the car, you hadn’t mentioned that during interrogaton, nor the first instance trial. What time did you stop following them?
Witness: Around 11 pm.
Papaddakis: Did you not manage to take a photo of him?
Witness: No. He went into 2 shops in Exarcheia. He left from Black Cat and that’s when we lost him there.
Papadakis: Why did you focus on Karaagiannides in Agrinio?
Witness: Because he was carrying two massive, heavy bags. I think Theofilou knew him.
Papadakis: Did you not try to find any CCTV footage?
Witness: No. If we lose our cover we won’t be able to work.
Papadakis: Were you not referred to a sketch artist?
Witness: No. It is not possible to arrest all the people who have connections. We are not magicians, we do not have the magic stick.
Presiding Judge: Do you have any information about the call received by the service?
Witness: I was informed by my supervisors.
Annie Paparrousou– defence counsel: What punishable offenses were observed in Theofilou’s behaviour?
Witness: I am telling you what I witnessed. I did not see anything illegal. We did not see anyting impeachable in order to interfere.
Paparrousou: So nothing occurred.
Witness: At that time it did not.
Paparrousou: Why did you not follow him, record him, arrest him?
Witness: It was not possible to follow him. We are just people, we are bound to lose someone.
Paparrousou: You keep letting him off because he is not considered significant. How would you characterise his writing? Political? Claims of responsibility for certain actions? Fiction?
Witness: I do not think they constitute responsibility claims. Don’t make me say things I am uncertain for.
Papadakis: Is it possible that the meeting with Sakkas was personal?
Witness: I cannot rule this out.
Tasos Theofilou: Why all this impermeability among different sections of the police? It is not illegal.
Witness: It must, that’s the charter of the service.
Tasos Theofilou: So what is more suspicious in the end, to have or not to have luggage?
Witness: It is not just the luggage, it is the image in total we assess as people.
At this point Annie Paparrousou commented cleverly: ”I find this very impressive, the weakness to admit simple things. Because it is possible for the witness to admit that these are fictional stories and not texts that claim responsibility”.
The examination of the second high-ranking official of the counter-terrorism service followed. Marinopoulos, the witness, not only reproduced the scenarios of his service, but also affirmed boldly his previous testimony: that he knows 400-500 people from the anti-authority milieu through the process of spying.
“He did not speak to, he did not have any contact with Karagiannides. Maybe they met up by accident,” he clarified in relation to the supposed presence of Theofilou at the Agrinio bus service.
Papadakis: What was Theofilou wearing?
Witness: I do not remember
Papadakis: Is it possible Sakkas was unknown to him?
Witness: Nothing is ruled out.
Paparrousou: Why was he charged under the Act 187A, what facts justify this?
Witness: Are you asking me?
Paparrousou: How do you know 400 people from the anti-authoritarian milieu?
Witness: From spying. I move around in their area. When I am following someone I do enter Exarcheia.
Paparrousou: Did you ask Theofilou to provide a DNA sample before his arrest?
Witness: I already answered that, yes.
Appeals Judge: Was he inspecting the area until Karagiannides received the luggage and then left?
Witness: He had the role of counter-surveillance in my opinion.
Fytrakis -defence counsel: Do you have any evidence that connects him directly to any acts of terrorism before the robbery on Paros?
“The witness knows 400 people from the anti-authoritarian milieu. This statement has been again made by a police officer. We live in a democracy where recordings and spying are there just fine. Receiving DNA samples is not legal in this case. This is important in connection to Theofilou’s acquittal for the offense he was charged with (note: resisting arrest). It was at the suggestion of counter-terrorism or other circles I am not knowledgeable of, that the defendant was placed under arrest and not because incriminating evidence against him suddenly appeared,” commented Annie Paparrousou.
“The submission of a document that proves Theofilou made a transaction in a mobile phone store renders his supposed presence in Agrinio at 10:30 unlikely since he was in Alexandra Avenue in Athens at 14:30 on the same day. The witnesses are only defending the prestige of their service,” added counsel Kostas Papadakis.
During the witness’ departure from the court room, he approached one of Tasos’ supporters in the audience and threatened him with a lawsuit for calling him a liar. On account of a very calm attitude displayed by the people in solidarity with Tasos and the intervention of the presiding judge, the tension deescalated soon, with the prosecution witness saying ironically “you do not honour the pants you are wearing” (Greek idiom for -you are not man enough) to Tasos’ supporter.
The next witness, an ordinary, working-class, decent man with great levels of mental toughness, moral compass and calmness, was subjected to bullying, as Kostas Papadakis categorically said, by the prosecutor, who had managed to display great levels of self-control and temperance towards the counter-terrorism officials who had testified just before.
Despite the prosecutor and the civil party going to great lengths to portray his testimony contradictory to his previous testimony in order to construct a certain ‘profile’ for Theofilou, who was either in hiding while renting the flat (even placing papers on the window panes, regardless if that was actually done by the counter-terrorism later on) or gone for most of the time, the witness had only positive things to say about his tenant.
Presiding Judge: Was he staying in the flat?
Witness: He was. The neighbours saw him.
Presiding Judge: Did he tell you he was a student because he actually was one or because he wanted to get a discount on the rent?
Witness: Nowadays we even see 60 year-old students. He was however very punctual with his payments, a gentleman.
Presiding Judge: What is your opinion of the defendant?
Witness: He was one of the best tenants I’ve had. I had a very good opinion of him, he never caused any problems to give a different impression, that something was going on.
Presiding Judge: Did you see him in August 2012?
Witness: I surely did after August 15th.
Prosecution: Did he let you enter the flat?
Witness: He never refused.
Next the witness explained the repeated and illegal interrogation processes which he was subjected to by the counter-terrorism officers.
“Since the first day the anti-terrorism appeared, until Sunday, they were saying “come, let’s have a talk,” I was being asked 20-30 questions in a very short space of time. On the last day they said ‘come to the p.d. to sign everything you said during the week. I did not sign every day. When I signed I had not read the document,” he revealed.
Annie Paparrousou: Did you find out whether they had found anything?
Witness: From what I heard from the guys of the anti-terrorism there was nothing in the flat.
Annie Paparrousou: Did you find out if the neighbour who saw him was called to testify?
Witness: I do not know that.
Following recess, a new small tension erupted when it was revealed that the next two prosecution witnesses were ‘tutored’ within the courtroom in order to learn where to focus, in front of everyone.
The next witness, an eye-witness of the bloody embroilment, did not contribute an incriminating testimony against Theofilou, while, at last, the infamous hat appeared, which according to the counter-terrorism scenario the perpetrator of the homicide was wearing.
Presiding Judge: Did you see the hat?
Witness: This is the shape of the hat, I do not remember the colour.
Presiding Judge: Who was wearing it?
Witness: I can’t remember. I was very upset. I did not see it on the ground.
Presiding Judge: Was the shooter wearing long sleeves?
Presiding Judge: He was wearing dark-coloured long sleeves, he was of medium height.
Civil Party: Did you witness the murder?
Witness: I saw very briefly a hand pointing Michas on the head and then him falling on the ground. The one who shot towards the crowd was wearing long sleeves and white handkerchief. It was not the one with the cowboy hat. He did not participate in the shooting, he looked like the most calm of them all.
Civil Party: Do you remember if a hat fell of somebody else?
Witness: I do not remember. In a situation like this there is a lot of confusion.
On the day of the robbery, the witness reported that a boat had left the island. He does not know whether his claims, which are very serious, were later investigated by the authorities.
The trial of the anarchist communist Tassos Theofilou continues on Friday February 10th at the Appellate Court of Athens, room 100A, 4th floor, 9pm.
Excerpts from the Omnia TV report:
Examination of Mr. Bagatelas, counter-terrorism
Papadakis: You saw him closely in order to remember his facial characteristics. So many police officers participated in this operation in Agrinio and not one of you managed to take a photograph or record video in order to have what he looked like on file?
Papadakis: Weren’t there any CCTV cameras? Nowhere? At the kebab shop nearby or the shops they walked outside?
Witness: I do not know.
Papadakis: I am puzzled. On the one hand you pay so much attention to this that a large number of officers is active on this case and follows a man around for 6 hours, yet again nobody makes the slightest effort to record this person of interest.
Papadakis: So many officers are sent from Athens to Agrinio and even there nobody has a camera?
Examination of G. Nassioss, the landlord
Prosecutor: When you testified after November 2012 you were shown the photographs of four people in order recognize who the first tenant was (Friend of Theofilou who previously rented the flat). And you recognized someone. And it was this one here (shows photo of Giannis Mihaelides).
Witness: No. I said “I do not know any of them.” This is exactly how it happened! I remember this very well.
Papadakis: They had you there for five hours etc. The document you signed, the exact testimony, did you check it? Did you read it to see whether everything was recorded exactly the way you said it?
Witness: To tell you the truth I signed and didn’t read because it was this (showing with his fingers how big the file was). I was interrogated in the morning, at noon and in the evening. One of the anti-terrorism officers led me down to a flat so that the district attorney could use the toilet- because there was no access elsewhere. He took me there, sat me down and said “let’s talk.” Sometimes he started from the whole thing in general, others from the end towards the beginning and others from the middle towards the beginning. Sometimes from the beginning. This was going on for a week.
Witness: I signed at the police once. I don’t know. They were writing the stuff I was telling them for a week and on the last day he said “come down to the p.d. to sign everything you said to us during the week.” Ok, I said. “Everything I said during the week.”
Presiding Judge: Did you read it before you signed?
Witness: It was bunch like this (showing the size). I read nothing.
Presiding Judge: You did not read the document you signed?