OmniaTV coverage of the 11th appeals trial hearing in Athens, Greece of imprisoned anarchist-communist comrade Tasos Theofilou. Translated into English for Insurrection News by BlackCat.
The hearing began with CCTV footage from the bank, which had been shown again during a previous hearing, although the caption strip was removed this time. Despite the removal of the caption strip, no new information in general or incriminating evidence against Theofilou was revealed. The prosecutor’s effort to degrade Mr. Karathanasis, the expert witness who specializes in digital evidence, turned out to be a failure. The witness stressed that the validity of his initial conclusion remains unchanged. During the trial of first instance the Judge claimed he could see the robber with the cowboy hat shooting the victim, but after having the captions removed, his claims remain unsubstantiated.
Papadakis: Nothing new is added to the case regarding the shooter or the robber who had an altercation with Michas. Three questions remain unanswered: A. Is this man Theofilou? Nothing was said by the prosecutor or the civil action counsel on this issue. B. Is this the same hat brought to court by the anti-terrorism police? Again, nothing was said about this by the prosecutor or the civil action counsel. C. As we can see in the video, there is no hat on the ground. The prosecutor and the civil action have failed to get us anywhere near to resolving this issue. Everything that was said is on account of a previous court ruling since Theofilou cannot be identified as one of the robbers, he is not guilty of robbery. So, we basically see a video and start imagining things. But a trial cannot be based on imagination. (…)
Paparrousou: Is there technical evidence which points towards the defendant or is this an issue of subjective interpretation?
Karathanasis: No, there are isn’t any (…)
Paparrousou: No facts could arise from this indistinct and blurry video recording. What’s worse? Each one of us could derive certain conclusions based on our mental state toward the defendant. It is clearly a matter of subjective interpretation and perception.
Next were the testimonies of the final witnesses. First on the stand was M.K., a social worker employed at the NGO Arsis. According to the witness, Theofilou volunteered as a language teacher for immigrants and refugees. She described him as punctual, calm and cooperative. Despite police claims that Theofilou ”disappeared” following Sakkas’ arrest, the witness said that he was still teaching in December 2010. When in January 2011 he decided to stop volunteering because of relocating, he managed to find a replacement, a fact that shows his sense of responsibility since he would not leave his students fall behind, despite him being only a volunteer at Arsis.
The next witness was Theofilou’s former employer who provides equipment for live music events. According to his testimony, he met Theofilou at an Anti-Racism festival. Since Theofilou had asked him for work, he gave him a call whenever he needed someone for short-term employment. The last time he worked with him was on the 20th of July 2012. The last time he saw Theofilou was on August 14th and met with him in order to pay him. The witness confirms that both times Theofilou had short hair and beard (in contrast to the bank robber).
Then two of Theofilou’s friends were called to testify. The first witness said that she has known Tasos for many years, that they are close friends and comrades. They had planned to meet for coffee on the day of his arrest, but she was an hour late and kept calling his cellphone which was off. She arrived at Thesio with a significant delay, so she decided to leave and at that point she accidentally happened to meet with a friend, whom she spoke to for a few minutes. Later on the same day, the witness was violently detained with one of her friends. The two women asked to see the badges of the officers who detained them but they refused to show them. At the same time they asked why they were prosecuted but did not receive an answer and one of the police officers responded by saying he did not know. They were released after 2-3 hours without being given any information or explanation. They found out about Tasos’ arrest the following day and realised that their detention was caused by their personal relationship to him. She later found out that the friend she saw in Thesio had also been detained in a similar way, possibly because he was seen talking to her. During the following days they asked for the paperwork of their detention but they were told it had not been recorded.
”It was like it never happened, like this whole thing took place in our imagination”.
Presiding Judge: When did you see the defendant for the last time?
Witness: At the beginning of the summer, the first days of July.
Presidng Judge: What was his appearance like?
Witness: He was tanned and his hair was cut short.
At this point one of the appellate judges asked the witness to explain how it was possible for the defendant to have moved to Athens from Thessaloniki, how was he able to afford his rent and phone bill when he could not afford to pay for the master’s degree he claimed he wanted to do. It is possible that the appellate judge lives in another universe and because of her own financial stability she is unable to understand the difference between having to pay five thousand euro for university fees plus living expenses, from having to work in order to survive and have basic things such as a roof over your head and a telephone. According to her logic these two cost the same. She was also surprised by the fact that he wanted to live independently and not with his family.
Papadakis: Did Theofilou disappear after the arrest of Kostas Sakkas?
Witness: Well, after the arrest, Tasos was actually protesting in solidarity with Kostas Sakkas at Evelpidon.
Papadakis: How do you know this?
Witness: I know this because I was there too along with other comrades. I guess throwing yourself to the wolves when you are in hiding makes a lot of sense.
Papadakis: I want you to tell me how you found out that during those days (when the robbery took place) and particularly that week, Theofilou was in Athens or elsewhere? What do you know and who gave you the information?
Witness: The week following the arrest, someone who participated in the renovations of the Immigrants Centre approached me and a mutual friend and said ”we were together, we ate together, we worked there together the entire week”.
Papadakis: Why didn’t these people come forward and give a statement to the interrogator? Because this is something that people have focused on.
Witness: They wanted to.
Papadakis: Who stopped them from doing so?
Witness: It was Tasos’ decision.
Papadakis: What was the logic behind this decision?
Witness: The Centre had already been targeted twice, first by parastate groups and second by the police. Tasos knew that he was being charged as a member of the organization Conspiracy of Cells of Fire and did not want to involve the Centre in all that. As we ‘ve seen in the past this organization was used as an excuse by the police in order to enact a pogrom of arrests and detentions. (…) I consider Tasos’ decision to have been the right one, it reveals his empathy and character.
Papadakis: Why would the police accuse him for being a member of the CCF and bring hats and DNA evidence, just because he was seen having a kebab with K. Sakkas one night?
Witness: I don’t think this is a personal issue but it constitutes a tactic deployed by the anti-terrorism police. There is a pool of suspects and based on the incident a name is randomly picked from those who are a better match. In this case, Tasos happened to be that person. His friendship with Sakkas helped them construct the whole thing. The fact that people in our movement are targeted because of intimate and friendly relations is very common. Countless comrades have been dragged to court, in a judicial captivity without precedence, just because a person of interest was someone they had coffee with, or their friend or partner or anything. This is the reason why Tasos is in this situation.
The second witness is another friend of Tasos. She also confirmed she was violently detained on the same day. She said that a ”climate of terrorism reigned” in the next few days following his arrest. She saw Theofilou for the last time around the end of July. He looked tanned, with a short haircut and a beard. The witness was employed at a cafe in Exarcheia and was the one who was initially approached by people from the Immigrants Centre who told her they were going to testify since they were with him in August when they were working on renovations on the day of the robbery. She said that she was the one who informed Tasos about people willing to testify but he made the decision not to involve the Centre since it had already been targeted.
The next witness was another friend of Tassos who was also a former flatmate. She said they often spent the night at each other’s place if it were needed. He was staying at her house a few days before his arrest and on the days surrounding the robbery she received calls from him using her landline since she was away on holiday.
Next witness was Faye Mayer, who was charged with participating in the CCF, jailed and eventually acquitted via a prosecutorial decree. She met Theofilou in Thesaloniki, they were not close friends but participated together in activities and assemblies within the anarchist milieu. She moved to Athens in 2007 and worked as a tutor. Then she enrolled at the Technical Institute in Lamia for a degree in Physical Therapy, where she commuted 2-3 times weekly. In August 2012 she found out about his arrest by media reports and saw that his house was presented as a lair.
Mayer: I saw that his life there was being portrayed as suspicious, something which runs counter to my experience (…) I commuted to Lamia weekly until my graduation in 2013. I met Tasos in the spring of 2011. I can’t remember exactly when but I remember how it happened. It was in a coffee shop in the central square, which is a common hangout spot for students and we happened to be there with the same group of people. I remember this very emphatically because he introduced his girlfriend and the rest made fun of him for that, since he must have been the only one among them to have moved there for this reason (…) Another incident which contradicts the claims made by the police is what happened in June 2012 when I had to commute daily because of a job I had in Lamia. I met him once on my way there and he mentioned he was going to Athens for a graphic design job and when I described my situation, with the ongoing commuting, he offered to let me stay at his house temporarily, which was not necessary, I did not go, but what I meant to say is that he is the kind of person who offers to let you spend the night and after two months his house is presented as a lair. This could not be further away from the truth based on my experience (…)
I believe that there are political reasons behind every prosecution against an anarchist. Especially for the period between 2008-2013, when the memories of the 2008 riots were still fresh and the financial crisis was becoming worse, that’s when anarchists were prosecuted to a degree that is comparable to previous times in history. I say this because this is the reason Tasos is here today.
Next was the testimony of Mr. Lambropoulos, employed as a math teacher in Korydallos prison. Despite the fact that he started to work there in November, the contact with Theofilou and the nature of his case made him ask the defendant to come to court as a defense witness.
Lambropoulos: The school opens in the morning and closes at two in afternoon because the Technological Institute has to operate next. Mr. Theofilou is a student at the Technological Institute but comes to the building early in the morning to read and study. I met him in November. I was very impressed by his behaviour, his dignity, how serious and reasonable he’s been. I see him there every morning. Most teachers were hired this academic year. Since Tasos had already been there since last year, he always helps us organize and get things done and is always willing to help. My colleagues and I were very impressed by his ethos, his kindness, his sense of humour. We have talked about it, about his case. The books he authored are at the school. We’ve talked many times about the injustice in his case. We do not know what our students have committed as prisoners, we only know of cases people talk about or are given publicity.
Prosecutor: What did you mean by injustice?
Lambropoulos: Look, we have discussed Theofilou’s case in the teacher’s office.
Prosecutor: Which aspects did you discuss?
Lambropoulos: Aspects we learned through the media and through references to his name in class, which happened twice.
Prosecutor: Were you transferred to the school in prison by request?
Lambropoulos: Yes, it was my request.
Prosecutor: Are the things he does recorded as work days?
Lambropoulos: No, he does not work, he comes over to study and help us out whenever we ask for something.
(The prosecutor seemed unable to accept that someone could offer his help without any personal gain. She wanted to show in every way that Theofilou is helping out as part of a work in prison program which would reduce his sentence. Unfortunately for her, it did not work).
Next questions were posed about Theofilou’s books, with a very aggressive tone by the prosecutor.
Prosecutor: Could you tell me which of his works are in the library?
Lambropoulos: His book titled ”32 Steps” which I have read and it is excellent.
Prosecutor: Has it been published properly? When was that?
Lambropoulos: A year ago… I don’t remember exactly. I came across this book in prison, it had already been published by then. I read it and it really helped me with the work I do in prison. I consider this to be equally important to the books authored by Elias Petropoulos. It’s excellent work.
Prosecutor: Could you tell us what it is about?
Lambropoulos: Life in prison.
Prosecutor: Is it his personal experience? Is it autobiographical or fiction?
Lambropoulos: The book is in two parts, the first might possibly be a little autobiographical. The second one contains a glossary.
Prosecutor: Tell me about the other book.
Lambropoulos: The other one is about the Attica Prison uprising.
lambropoulos: Yes the uprising.
(At this point the prosecutor seems to be in shock after hearing the word ”uprising” which caused the audience to laugh out loud).
Lambropoulos: The book titled ”Attica 45” is a very significant work because it’s about a fact we were not aware (…)
Papadakis: How do you explain that these books, one of which outlines all that is wrong inside prisons and another about an uprising, can be found in the prison library?
Lambropoulos: The teachers have read them and prisoners have shown a great interest in them. There have been discussions for the case of Theofilou.
Papadakis: Do people see any value in these books?
Lambropoulos: Yes, of course, they are highly regarded.
Papadakis: Let’s consider that there is an uprising in Korydallos prison tomorrow, could it be blamed on Theofilou for writing a book on Attica? (audience is laughing).
Lamborpoulos: Firstly, I consider writing these books while in prison to be very honorable, he could have published them after his release, he could have tried to avoid any negative thoughts. Having puiblished this book now is to his honour. Secondly, the Attica Prison uprisisng is not well known in Greece. In the US, there is an extensive bibliography and research on this subject. I actually asked him about it, because there is a great discrepancy among the two countries, nothing was ever written about the Attica Prison uprising in Greek.
Papadakis: It is rare for people employed in prison to come as witnesses, we usually get a written confirmation that a prisoner has worked, has not violated any prison rules, etc. You said that you ‘ve been there since November. So you basically know him for 5-6 months. What made you want to defend a person you haven’t even known for that long?
Lambropoulos: Firstly, it’s all the discussions I heard about him. Secondly, his ethos and stance in prison. In his book titled ”32 steps” which I looked into again since I was going to be here, at some point he writes about the type of people who become incarcerated and said ”miserable people, worn-down people, people…” I dont remember how it goes exactly and concludes: ”as if they were made for this place”. Theofilou is the opposite. When I first saw him, I thought what is he doing in here… It’s how he looks, his presence.
Papadakis: How is his presence distinct? What is that brings you here, what is it that created a need for you to appear in court and speak for this man’s ethos?
Lambropoulos: His kindness, his dignity…There is nothing illicit about him, how do I put this better… He takes a stance if he sees injustice, he always sees the right thing, among prisoners for example. He does not kiss any guard’s ass, he has maintained a very dignified stance.
Papadakis: Is he argumentative, violent?
Lambropoulos: This couldn’t be any further from the truth, he is trying to keep the balance at times (…). My colleagues have the same opinion about him. I informed them about me appearing at court, not that I had to, but we talked about it, they all agreed with this and liked this fact very much.
Papadakis: Didn’t they warn you about getting yourself in trouble with this guy right here?
Lambropoulos: No, no…
Papadakis: Would you say that your colleagues would be willing to testify and they would say similar things about Theofilou?
Lambropoulos: I offered to come here by myself, but I think if he (Theofilou) asked they would all come (…)
Paparrousou: The D.A. asked what you meant when you referred to injustice. She meant how would you know that the previous court verdict was unjust. Do you know what he is being accused of? Were you at court, are you aware of the facts? (…)Possibly, due to your job role you have managed to identify some characteristics of his personality which preclude any involvement in the actions he is being charged with. Is there any truth in that? Is that why you are here? Are you convinced of his innocence? Why did you come to this hearing?
Lambropoulos: Yes, I am convinced. Injustice, if an injustice is perpetrated, if a trial is fair, then it becomes known, society would be informed about it, what happens won’t stay within this room. If something is just and right then it becomes known. People are social beings, read, move outside.
The next witness was a classmate of Theofilou from Thessaloniki. This witness also referred to his ethos and decency and stressed that: ” I know his ethos and character, he would have taken responsibility had he done this, whether it was the robbery or the CCF, or whatever the anti-terrorism police charged him with”. He explained that since he testified as a defence witness during the trial of first instance he is under the tight surveillance of the anti-terrorism police. The hearing concluded with the testimony of Klearchos Smyrnaios.
Klearchos Smyrnaios stated that he had been accused and convicted as a member of a revolutionary organization and was eventually acquitted after many years. He came to court to testify because he was subjected to similar treatment and endured the same practices deployed by the antiterrorism.
Smyrnaios: I am aware that this is a prosecution caused by his political beliefs which is something I established by paying close attention to this case through the internet as well. It’s very common process in the way the charges are constructed, which consist of shreds of evidence which are broken down and re-arranged in order to look credible. And the way he was arrested, the counts on resisting his arrest in order for the police to stall and construct the case file. What I experienced in Tasos’ first instance trial as well as what is going on now, is a constant focus on his political beliefs…
Presiding Judge: Who focuses on his beliefs?
Smyrnaios: The prosecutor.
Prosecutor: When did I ask… say anything like that?
Smyrnaios: Now, today. Earlier, you asked one of the witnesses whether he belongs to the same movement as the defendant.
Prosecutor: I asked which movement. The witness said the the same movement and I ask what that was.
Smyrnaios: Fair enough, so you did focus on that. It’s a prosecution based on his political beliefs.
Prosecutor (having lost her temper): Did you come here to evaluate the trial?
Smyrnaios: Does it bother you? Since you are asking if his books are fictional of autobiography?
Presiding Judge: Have you followed Mr. Theofilou’s trial closely?
Smyrnaios: Yes, I have. I have followed the spectacle created in August 2012 by the Mass Media of Deception, which have now entirely abandoned the case. I watched how the charges were created, how they evolved, how they were presented at court, how he was deprived of having a normal judge -the jury court. How a count is being magnified and insisited upon, in order to create a climate of terror: since the first day here all I saw was cops wearing balaclavas with their guns at hand, which, accompanied with certain names or organizations, create this climate of terror. And now the question of how is it possible to change the first instance verdict is posed to you (…)
Papadakis: To what extent did this climate contribute to an unfair, as you mentioned, ruling? And what did you mean when said that Theofilou cannot be tried based on stereotypes, which was part of your testimony during the first instance trial?
Smyrnaios: Firstly, this case started in August 2012. During the period 2010-2012 the streets were filled with protesters every day (…) And there was an orgy of state terrorism and state violence during the protests and convictions for the simplest and most common political practices. A certain political milieu was affected disproportionately during that period. That’s when we witnessed a systematic and unprecedented repression in terms of aggression and Theofilou was placed within that context . The incriminating evidence used throughout the trial were the short stories on his blog. This is what we heard about from morning till night. They kept showing videos of Paros island for a quarter of an hour in the evening news along with excerpts from Tasos’ short stories. He is an intellectual who is found guilty because he has a different non-conforming lifestyle. Whether he had a house, which is something I’ve heard, or lived wherever he lived, or whatever someone does in their personal life and the reasons behind that, cannot be the basis of guilt, cannot be used as evidence for committing a crime, when actual incriminating evidence is missing.
The 13th hearing of the trial was held on April 28th.