Greece: Allegations of torture and beatings at police headquarters


Received 16/03/2021

21-year-old Aris Papazacharoudakis speaks to “Ef.Syn.” for his abduction by police one day after the incidents in Nea Smyrni, denounces his long torture in GADA and states that from now on, Michalis Chrysochoidis has the sole responsibility for everything that happens to him or his co-accused who was remanded in custody accused of attempted murder of a police officer without, as he says, being able to support the indictment.

• You are among those arrested who were taken to the interrogator last Saturday and released on restrictive terms. At first you faced the charge of attempted murder of a police officer, but you did not have to testify for it as in the end they did not attribute it to you. When was your arrest and where?
I was arrested the day after the events in Nea Smyrni, a few meters from the building that hosted the assembly of the Masovka Anarchist Collective, of which I am a member. I was involved in the protest against police violence, there is no evidence to blame me for anything or to link me to the incident. It was about 19:30 and I was about to take a taxi home before the curfew came into force. Initially, a motorcycle with two people wearing hoods stopped in front of me, I showed my ID and within seconds a car without license plates arrived next to me and while it was moving I was thrown on the hood.
They handcuffed me behind my back, placed a hood over my head and put me in the car punching and kicking me. Until then I did not know if I was dealing with police or the mafia. As it turned out, maybe it would have been better to deal with the mafia. Through the hood I could see faintly, but they hit me whenever I raised my head. At one point I heard a radio but not from the car and realized that the car was accompanied by motorbikes. Prior to my abduction, I had been informed of the disappearance of my brotherly friend, who is now in custody facing baseless charges.

• What do you know about your friend’s arrest?
It happened next to his house but while he was at work. He works as a delivery driver and while distributing food, he was literally abducted. Because he was running late, his work contacted his family and for a long time we were worrying he had been in a car accident. Especially since his mother called GADA and was assured that her son was not being held and the family made a disappearance statement to the Police Department. How could they have known that it was them that had disappeared him …

• Were you taken to GADA?
Yes, in the basement of GADA. Right and left I could see dozens of police officers lined up. They took me out and started beating me, they threw me in the elevator saying “we will even rape your puppy”. They asked me how old I was and when I answered 21, they told me “you have strong legs for 21” and they went on to beat my legs. They put me in a room.
I continued to be tied behind my back and to wear a hood, like a prisoner of war. I do not know how many people passed by this office, probably the whole police force was coming and going to beat me. Others beat me without speaking, others insulted me, repeatedly asking me to say which football team I am a fan of. I “explained” to them – as much as one can explain in such a situation – that I am neither a fan nor a hooligan and I got the answer: “We don’t give a fuck, you will say a team”. At one point the lights went out and then the only light I could see was when the door opened and closed for someone to come in and beat me. They let me breathe for five minutes. Then they would knock on the desks and I would hear the sounds of tools and zippers and they would ask me “are you ready?”. I answered negatively, it was like a virtual execution environment. Someone violently smashed my face on the desk.

• How long did these conditions of psychological and physical torture you describe last?
There was not a part of my body that did not hit for eight hours. I concluded that I was on the 13th floor when at some point I was taken down the stairs to the lower floor and I was able to see a logo that said DAEEV. I was now on the 12th floor and my first round of torture had just ended.
The second one started by showing me a window and saying to me: “If you want to be saved, no one will stop you. “Otherwise, in four days from now you will go to jail for attempted murder of a police officer and there you will have every opportunity to count the likes in your posts”.

• In which post did they refer to you?
I had commented on Facebook – it is still posted – that these are funny Clouseau-type detectives who make mafia accusations, referring to the arrest for attempted murder of the young man who lost his wallet during the events in Nea Smyrni, whom I do not know personally. I was constantly asked for the names of anyone, I was told to give political activists. I said I did not know and I was repeatedly punched in my spine. I thought I would be paralyzed. I was trying and wishing to pass out so I could be taken to the hospital or die.
I lost consciousness, fell from the chair and they lifted me by pulling me by the handcuffs. Suddenly someone pulled my hood. I said “I do not feel well” and they replied “why are you not well? Did you have an accident? Then I was asked to sign my arrest documents and I have to admit that it only included what had actually been confiscated and I had on me, nothing more. I did not want to give fingerprints for fear of a fabricated indictment later and when I mentioned Irianna’s case, they told me “don’t watch too much Netflix”. Eventually my fingerprints were forcibly recorded and despite not giving my consent. I was then led to a cell on the seventh floor.

• Were there other detainees on the 7th floor?
In the cell I was initially alone, but I called out my friend’s name and he answered back. After that we were put in the same cell in different conditions from the other arrestees, in complete isolation. We weren’t provided any water or a toilet. The only help was from the youths who were arrested in Nea Smyrni, they put bottles of water on the cell’s railings. We drank this and then used the bottle for peeing.
We slept on the cement, no mattress or blanket, nothing. We did not have access to the toilet for two days. They did not allow us to talk to a lawyer, at some point they let us call our families for 30 seconds and kept showing us theor batons to know what awaits us if we exceed the time of half a minute. Even in the Evelpidon court, the Anti-terrorist police was standing next to our lawyer.

• Did you ask to go to the hospital or did you report to the judge investigator what you were complaining about?
I refused to seek medical attention for reasons of dignity. The judge interrogating me could see the marks on my face. My friend and I are political prisoners and that is exactly why he was remanded in custody. The telephone conversations they cite only prove that the state is illegally monitoring us, spying on our phones. Even today I am afraid for his life and mine. I declare publicly that for everything that happens to us from now on, the sole responsibility lays with “Mr. Michalis of New Democracy”, as I heard some people on the 12th floor addressing him as they were spoking to him personally on their phones.

Annie Paparroussou, lawyer
The haste to formulate a case of this type has consequences on the evidence used, as this is absolutely weak evidence, highlighted in the case of the pre-trial detention of my client only using illegally intercepted conversations. This is an illegal means of proof, which leaves no room for the accused to use any legal means of proof for their defence.

translation by antirinfo

source: (newspaper)

*GADA is the headquarters of the greek police that also houses the state security department, the anti-terrorist department and other state surveillance services.