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"Democratic" Greek police caught on video, torturing detainees

category international | crime and justice | news report author Monday June 18, 2007 17:48author by IMC Athens Report this post to the editors

ATHENS: Police torturers remain unpunished

On the 24th of June 2006, at least four policemen tortured two migrants in the police station of Omonia in central Athens. They forced them to beat each other, beat them both and captured the torturing on a mobile phone camera. For nearly a year, that footage was circulated amongst policemen via mobile phones. On the early hours of the 16th of June 2007 the video was uploaded to a commercial video sharing service and from there, to Athens Indymedia. A few hours later it featured as breaking news in Greece's major media outlets, forcing prime minister Karamanlis to issue a statement condemning the incident.
Greek police torturers!
Greek police torturers!

So far, PM Karamanlis supports Polydoras (his Minister of Public Order) and ignores the increasing amount of voices demanding Polydoras to resign. But why should he? Torturing of civilians in police stations and even inside the police's headquarters, so-called "accidental" shootings, beatings, kidnappings and humiliation of migrants, plots against those who resist the brutality of the greek state: all comprise a concrete reality for the greek police today, with its actions being fully backed by the conservative government.

http://athens.indymedia.org/front.php3?lang=el&article_...20797"> | http://athens.indymedia.org/features.php3?id=477

short transcription of the video:

(Bald police officer, to the left):

- Harder, harder. Hit him harder, I'm telling you.
Sit down. You (points to the person to the right) will be number One. And you (points to the person to the left) will be number Two. Whoever hears their number beats up the other one. Do you understand? (Smacks one of the two). Do you understand? What number are you again?


-...and what number are you?


- All right. Number One. (He smacks his friend).
Number Two. (He does the same).
Number One, five times. Quick, quick!
Number Two. Hit him better. And again... Now sit down. Number One, five times. That's good. Number two, don't turn your head. Sit down. Number two, five times. Faster number Two, faster! Hit harder. Harder!

Now I want you to face each other. Don't stand up, stay like you are, sitting. You will each hit each other with your hands.

-(Police officer in the back) Let's add some sound, shall we? You will both say "what a wanker I was, to go rob that old lady".

-(Bald police officer to the left): Each of you, before hitting the other, will say "I am a wanker".

-(Detainee to the left): I am a wanker (Slaps his friend. Detainee to the right does the same).

-(Officer) Very nice. Don't stop! Harder, hit him harder! Swap over and continue. Now say, "I'm a big wanker" and continue slapping each other. (They both do so. Officer filming the torture laughs).

Related Link: http://athens.indymedia.org
author by Apublication date Mon Jun 18, 2007 21:23author address author phone Report this post to the editors

On Tuesday 5th of June, two anarchists and a friend of theirs (all 20-22 years old) were arrested after trying to attack a car of the municipal police in the neighborhood of Paleo Faliro in Athens. During their arrest, all three were beaten up by the police to the point of collapse.

After being beaten further and tortured (mentally and physically) at the Police Headquarters in Athens, the Attorney General order the pre-trial detention of all three.

The condition of the girl is particularly serious and alarming since she is now facing health problems; the vicious attack of the cops and their severe beatings have caused her a nervous breakdown. At dawn she was transfered to two different hospitals in Athens, where the doctors only offered her first aid and refused to accept her for further treatment. The doctors treating her currently (her personal doctor together with the police doctor) both speak of a serious psychotic-related amnesia condition caused by extreme stress during her arrest and detention. Despite this fact the girl is still held at the Police headquarters while her lawyers are trying to get her to another Athens hospital. Should this not happen, she will be transfered to and held at the mental health hospital of the Korydallos prison in Athens.

Related Link: http://de.indymedia.org/2007/06/183479.shtml
author by glpublication date Mon Jun 18, 2007 21:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

And to think we allowed a country like Greece membership of the EU.

author by iosafpublication date Mon Jun 18, 2007 22:14author address author phone Report this post to the editors

We know people die in police custody be in Ireland (north or south) the UK, Barcelona - wherever you go on the long list of countries who shouldn't have been let into the European Union you see torture and murder in police custody by police officers. Everywhere they (the police) complain that they are targets of witch-hunts. But this Greece case combines the worst of what I call "snuff culture" that appallingly perverse trivialisation of violence which followed the mass marketing of cheap digital video recording equipment, sophisticated mobiles telephony & needless to remind the Iraq war & emergent forms of terrorism. We see the psychological duress and immediate projection of torture when the prisoners quite probably scared for their lives are told to beat each other. It is unquestionably as morally repugnant an act which became spectacle through any gladiators' fight in the Colleseum of ancient Rome. For let's not get it wrong - spectacle it became, this video has been distributed far and wide - but in worryingly similar ways to the distribution of child pornography it stayed in a closed circuit of near impunity - only cops of similar proclivity got to watch and perhaps laugh at this criminal evidence. I wouldn't be pretentious would I to suggest that every police officer who saw that video clip without reporting the same as a crime was an accessory to the crime - would I?

This case is the worst case of torture in modern Europe.
It amounts to much much more than the bare facts as they are currently being presented & a full inquiry complete with expenses and nightly telly digests ought be a foregone conclusion. But honestly we can't let that cliché be the foregone conclusion. As I and Dunk mentioned in Barcelona the Catalan national police force in question who have clocked up more torture allegations in their less than 2 year deployment that the Basque police force dealt with in the last 3 years had the bad taste to demonstrate politically when they organised a march through their trade union calling for the right to "be presumed innocent till proven guilty" & respect for their "professional dignity". (c/f http://www.indymedia.ie/article/82327#comment196928 btw CSOA miles the eviction which led to the that thread was evicted a second time and a demolition crew moved in last week. the demolition was halted by the mainstream trade union CCOO for illegal worker saftey conditions but the building is now uninhabitable) The cases of death in custody (both on the street just after arrest and in proper detained conditions in holiding cells which led to the indignation of the body of police (mossos d'esquadra) were followed quickly by another which saw a Russian migrant report her own beating at the hands of 2 women police officers of the "mossos". One of the police women accused presented a video made on her mobile phone of the Russian inficting injuries on herself in the police car on the way to the station.., As one who has been involved in the presentation of opinion, facts, happenings, news and so on so forth for many years now in what increasingly we see as one of the most powerful yet imprecise facets of modern media (the internet) - I know that we have now reached the stage where :-
1) we need independently monitored and recorded and cached Video and Audio Surveillance in all Police stations and vehicles.
2) we need to impose strict regulation on the entry by police officers into holding cells or interrogation areas - a good many of these cases (& my attention was first startlingly sought sa a wrter to a local case of torture in Barcelona only three weeks after the deployment of that police "the mossos") occur when groups of police officers with _no reason_ to accompany prisoners do so.
3) we need as no doubt we all must recognise a completely different selection procedure for police officers and the varying "internal affairs" divisions must be properly paralleled and equaled in these criminal events by independent investigation & psychologically based monitoring of officers. The job of police officer ought not be life - it ought be an employment option which sees that worker subjected to constant scrutiny and appraisal in the interest of "their professional dignity".

so that's why we need to talk about this case of Police torture - how many mobile phone videos have been made in Garda stations?

author by ncpublication date Tue Oct 23, 2007 21:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

true, this is shameful, but it would be unfair to dismiss Greece as a whole, by any means. In fact, think about who released this video... it surely must have been another policeman... a Greek policeman whose democratic conscience urged him to react, even if it meant shaming his Force.

Also, I think you may need to know that this video provoked a major outcry in Greece at the time and eventually led to the marginalisation of the then responsible minister.

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