Friday, 12 February 2010
Daily update on industrialist kidnapping trial (Greece)
Introduction to the play:
Georgios Mylonas is the boss of Alumil SA, one of the larger aluminium system suppliers in Europe, and president of the Northern Greece Industrialists at the time (gaining a questonable fame with declarations such as “workers need to fasten their belts harder”), was kidnapped for a large sum of money on June 10, 2008. After a few days and while the ransom money were paid and collected and Mylonas returned to his post, the police managed to spot (according to the media through bank account and mobile phone surveillance) a 40 year-old in Chania, Crete (As. Lazarides, is said to be “fully cooperating” with the police). After a few days, special police forces raided a house outside Thessaloniki, where Vassilis Palaiokostas, fugitive at the time, after a series of spectacular bank robberies and prison escapes (including two with a helicopter from Korydallos prison, the second one just one day before his jury for the first one), was found with an anarchist comrade, Polykarpos (Polys) Georgiades. Another comrade, Vaggelis Chrysohoides was arrested on the same day in Thessaloniki centre. According to the police and mass-media, Vassilis Palaiokostas was the head of the kidnappers group, while the two anarchists were part of his “criminal association” allegedly participating in armed bank robberies. Vassilis (who remains fugitive right now after his second heli-escape) wrote a letter to the media for the first time, denouncing the police’s scenarios and declaring the two young comrades’ crime was they stood by a hunted men, like many others did before. Polys also admits he helped Palaiokostas hide and stood by him as an anarchist and as a friend. He also suggests that kidnapping is nothing more than the foundation of the capitalist society, since millions of workers are kidnapped everyday by a criminal association of legitimate businessmen, and their salary is the ransom, to make the world move. This is the real scandal. The two comrades are kept in pre-trial imprisonment since their arrests (20/08/08). During their imprisonment, they remained as alarmed as when outside prison, participating in prison struggles, the massive hunger-strike of November 2008 (even though Polys made his concerns clear on the limitations of such a tactic before finally joining in as thousands of other prisoners), correspondance and various texts-publications. The judicial procedure begun on February 2, 2010 in Thessaloniki just a few days before the pre-trial period ends (in fact on 19/2 the cops will have to let them out of prison). This is a basic update on the trial for our international comrades, and much of the info come from Thessaloniki self-managed radio: www.radio-revolt.org
Tuesday, February 2
Opening of the judicial procedure, with dozens of policemen around and inside the courthouse. Around 60 solidarians as well. 11 persons are accused in total, with 7 serious crimes and 17 misdemeanours. Giorgos Haralambides, a former bank robber and long time prisoner in struggle and 5 of his relatives, as well as another man, G.P. accused for some related thiefts. Some 15 solidarians were taken out of the court for clapping hands when the jury mentioned the names of the prosecuted comrades. Also laughs to the cops were heard whenever the name of escapee Vassilis Palaiokostas was mentioned. The trial got postponed for the following day.
Wednesday, February 3
Many cops and around 30 solidarians inside and outside the courthouse. Cops prevent some journalism students from entering the room, saying “this isn’t an ordinary trial of anarchists”. Mylonas -accompanied by a dozen of security-thugs- testifies. A sentimental approach to his understandable fears and angst, during the days he was captive. He said the kidnappers were organized criminals willing to kill, though he doesn’t mention any specific harassment he experienced, apart from being captive. He admits he was given food, a radio and newspapers daily. He claims he recognizes Polys as one of the (masked) kidnappers from his voice and figure, though he is sure Polys is around 1,95 metres tall. When he gets Polys is significantly shorter, he claims he was wearing some kind of high-heeled shoes. Mylonas’ wife also testifies on the ransom and communication issues, and said the kidnappers’ treatment of her husband was humaine. In any case, she doesn’t recognize neither Polys nor Vaggelis. Polys and Vaggelis deny all accusations, while A.L. (the cooperating arrestee) affirms everything.
Thursday, February 4
-No jury today
Friday, February 5
20-30 solidarians in and outside the courthouse. The cops testimonies. The head of the police operation mentions police used mobile phone surveillance to reach to the accused. The elements against Polys are a wallet with his photo and some pre-noted ransom money the police claim to have found, a fake ID card, and a voice identification this cop did using merely his own ears. The cop also mentioned a third person, likely an Albanian, took part in returning Mylonas home and collecting the ransom. Another cop testified the same story, but after pressure from the defendants’ lawyers he admitted he never heard the actual tapes, but his collegues assured him it was like that. It turns out, it was rather a inner rumour turned into an official statement. This same cop said the house they found Polys and Vassilis was rented by Polys with a fake ID card. Finally, the lawyer of G. Mylonas testified, presenting a paper with a fingerprint of a comrade on a …food jar. Nevertheless, he didn’t identify either of their voices to the kidnappers’ ones. A few more cops testified on certain issues such as mobile phone surveillance and the raid at the house outside Thessaloniki. 10,8 millions euros were the ransom money, while large part of them were found burried outside the house.
Monday, February 8
Another day for the cop witnesses, this time testifying against Vaggelis, accused for another two robberies, against a bank and a money van. The cops didn’t manage to avoid many contradictions. In defence of Vaggelis, his father stated that during the period of these events Vaggelis had a “normal” life, working and spending time at home. Especially during the money van robbery, Vaggelis was at the timber-factory he worked, with other co-workers… The trial will go on Wednesday morning, with defence witnesses and testimonies.
Tuesday, February 9
-No jury today
Wednesday, February 10
Jury continues with three of the defendants’ “apologies” and some more witnesses. Asimakis Lazarides -the defendant that cooperates with the police- repeated his previous statements that he participated in the kidnapping and also testified against the other two, Polys and Vaggelis, claiming he met one of them, by the false name “Theodore”, the day Mylonas was kidnapped, while the other one, one day after that.
Polys, mentioned that he met Vassilis Palaikostas in prison (note: Polys spent during 2004-5 ten months in pre-trial imprisonment accused for private security car gas-canister arsons and got out on parole on Feb. 2005. After Thessaloniki anti-summit 2003 there was a large wave of gas-canister attacks targeting mainly private security-control infrastructure but also political party offices, churches etc). During that time he was initially excited by Palaiokostas’ collection of books, Nietzsche, Dostoyevsky etc and got to meet him and develop a friendship that was bound by the common prison struggles they took part at the time, as well as everyday life in prison. During Palaiokostas’ first heli-escape, Polys and others took to the streets spraypainting and chanting slogans. In 2007 Polys stated he met again with Palaiokostas-fugitive at the time, and decided to help him hide from the police, as an anarchist and as a friend and that was his only relation to this case. He described police accusations of him taking part in bank robberies and the kidnapping as unreliable and products of a police mentality (“now that we got a priest, why not bury …5 or 6″). A defence witness (Polys’ brother) described Polys as a hard working man, living in austerity, neglecting any extravagance. Another witness, a radical, mentioned “they were simply providing shelter to a hunted man, I would do that as well, given the circumstances”. Another defence witness, Polys’ girlfriend, mentioned he had done some time in prison before, and by no means would he chalenge his freedom for money, and all he did was standing in solidarity with a hunted man and a friend. It was also mentioned that Palaiokostas is not the head of any “criminal association” but merely a man whose actions have vast social acceptance and support.
Vaggelis, also denying all accusations against him, testified he was simply helping Vassilis with food supplies and transfers. The jury showed a persistance on inquiring alleged participation of Vaggelis in other bank robberies, though witnesses testified Vaggelis was with them during the quoted time, participating in a prisoner solidarity demonstration.
The jury will go on with the rest of the defendants and witnesses the following day.
Thursday, February 11
After a quick run through the rest of defense witnesses and defendant G. Haralambides statement (he claimed the “prison ethics” and didn’t spare any information about anything), all of which declared their solidarity to the two comrades as well as to the fugitive Vassilis Palaiokostas, it’s time for the prosecution attorney’s part: He suggested Vassilis Palaiokostas being guilty for all charges (kidnap, bank robberies and money van attempted robbery). Polys and Vaggelis for participation in the kidnapping and also a robbery attempt against the money tranfer van, where firearms where used (extra charges for “homocide attempt”). The attorney upholded that “abduction is a crime of especial repugnance to every sane individual”, and asked also for Asimakis Lazarides (the compromised defendant) sentence for participation in the kidnap and certain bank robberies.
The elements used against Polys and Vaggelis were: a) Asimakis Lazarides statements to the police after he got arrested (he mentioned he was told his co-defendants “were arrested and had spoken to the cops”) and to the court. b) Giorgos Mylonas’ statement to the court. According to him, when he visited Vassilis Palaikostas at the police station after his arrest, Palaiokostas mentioned the other arrestees as his associates. According to G. Mylonas again, he identified Polys and Vaggelis as two of the people involved in his kidnapping. At this point, defence pointed out that Mylonas had described Polys as a 1,95 metres tall man, and Vaggelis as an ethnic Albanian, though Vaggelis doesn’t know any Albanian. Furthermore he had spoken of another man that was mysteriously erased from the procedure. c) Police surveillance of Vaggelis’ cell phone. After yet another case of declassification of communication privacy, police claims they recognised Vaggelis negotiating with the industrialist’s wife about the ransom, and sharing on mobile phone with the prisoner G. Haralambides information related to the case. G. Haralambides and another 4 relatives of him are also suggested to be convicted for “accessorial guilt” and gun-possession. d) Fingerprints on certain mobile items (food packs) and fake IDs.
Back to the theatrical part now, Mylonas’ lawyer endorsed that he is also “aware of anarchism and of Bakunin, and if they belong to that ideology (sic), they should lay on their eggs, since Bakunin doesn’t mention anything about kidnaps and robberies”. He added that Mylonas family is very courageous and strong, and that the fact Mylonas recognized Polys and Vaggelis while his wife didn’t, is due to their great ethical sensibility. He also said that his clients would not want the two defendants to be given a life imprisonment, because they would care to see them returning to society to admit and prove their regrets. Meanwhile, he shared his contempt for Polys mentality, whom he considers appropriate for “gas-canisters” but not for an organised kidnap… And this is the way this noble man’s class retaliation ends, not with a bang but with a whimper.
Interlude: Certain incendiary defence arguements
Monday, February 8, in the dawn, an Agricultural bank branch in Ioannina was damaged by an explosive device by the “Club of Night Experiments” in solidarity to Ilias Nikolaou (pre-trial imprisonment for alleged gas canister bombing), Giannis Dimitrakis (35 years convict for armed bank expropriation), the 4 youths in pre-trial imprisonment for alleged participation in the “conspiracy of cells of fire”, Christos Strategopoulos and Alfredo Bonanno (pre-trial imprisonment for alleged bank robbery and complicity relatively), and P. Georgiades and V. Chrysohoides.
Tuesday, February 9, early in the morning the “Nucleus of Asymmetric Warfare” firebombed the entrance of the courthouse of Xanthi, a city in northern Greece, in solidarity to P. Georgiades, V. Chrysohoides and also the prosecuted for the “conspiracy of cells of fire” and all prisoners.
To be continued…