Greece: Mrs. Nikolaou’s cynical attack to Koufontinas’s lawyer I. Kurtovic announces a sought out death


Received 02/03/2021

Statement from the legal support team:

Mrs. Nikolaou’s cynical attack to Koufontinas’s lawyer I. Kurtovic announces a sought out death.

 The government, even now, must step back and separate itself from this attitude of justifying the legal attrocity that is taking our country to the international spotlight.

 The Secretary General of Anti-Crime Policy (GGAP), Ms. Nikolaou, has no legitimacy to speak of distortion from Mrs Kurtovic’s side when she represents the worst kind of dystopian administration and argument forgery-manipulation.

 The government, panicked by its complete isolation on the issue of the vengeful and inhumane treatment of this prisoner, constantly changes its arguments when confronted with the simple question of why it did not implement the photographic, unfavourable, law passed specifically for this prisoner, resorting yet again to novel baseless allegations.

 First, she claimed that Korydallos is a prison for pre-trial detention and not convicts, which is obviously untrue, and has been adequately answered (it should be noted that she does not refer to it in her decision of 21-12-20 for the transfer of the prisoner to Domokos).

 Secondly, citing the coronavirus pandemic, a claim that is funny and applicable to every prison and of course Domokos prison as well. Especially when her office itself admits that neither the rural prisons of Kassavetia nor the prisons of Korydallos had cases of coronavirus, in contrast to the prisons of Domokos and furthermore, when the document cited by her office on the 17-12-2020 does not concern with matters relating to transfers of detainees , but rather  the issuance of new incarceration orders by the Prosecutor’s Offices. Needless to say, this document was known to the GGAP (since she is leading it!) When it co-decided, as a member of the KEM council, the transfer of the detainee to Korydallos (21-12-20) on the same day that she unilaterally decided to transfer him to Domokos !!

 After her arguments failed, her aides equipped Ms. Nikolaou with the new argument: Why did the detainee go on a hunger strike and not to court? This is a cynical confession of violation of legality. The government considers that it has the right to make constant irregularities and mockery in the face of a prisoner and to oppose him “go find your right in the courts”.

 But Nikolaou’s new allegations are also untrue and defamatory against our colleague Ioanna Kurtovic, who has been a model lawyer for many years and a human rights defender and collaborator of justice.

 In order to restore the truth and the legal science as we learn it in Law School and not from the, obviously ignorant of the law, propagandising media groups of the ruling party, we are pointing out the following:

 As our colleague J. Kurtovic clearly wrote in her letter, the detainee is given two ways to challenge the decision of his transfer. Either (a) he will need to be provided with the legal documents outlining the decisions regarding his transfer in order to request their annulment, or (b) if necessary and in the face of unjustified refusal of the administration to grant them, he will request his transfer twice so that in case of two successive refusals, he can appeal to the court of execution of sentences according to article 9 par. 4 of the Penitentiary Code.

 The detainee was deprived of both of these legal routes. First, as Ms. Nikolaou cynically confesses, the 28/12/2020 request of the detainee for the issuance of the necessary documents was answered two months later on 18/2/2021 and of course, as she forgets to mention, after countless appeals and the intervention of the Ombudsman. But even this intervention was not appropriately dealt with after the Secretary General sent an exact copy of her own decision, but not of the decisions of the KEM, which was invoked in her own decision, effectively meaning that any legal action against them is not possible. Of course, by this time the administration had already refused to provide the documents and the detainee had already gone on a hunger strike.

 With bottomless cynicism, Ms. Nikolaou states: “We do not understand why Ms. Kurtovic reminds us that in order for a detainee to go to court against a transfer decision, he must first have made two negative decisions in his application. Why is her argument referring to a legal process that certainly Koufontinas cannot propose as he has not yet been made aware in written of the rejecting decisions? “

 And all while that, immediately after his transfer to Domokos, the detainee submitted to the prison secretariat an application for his transfer to Korydallos, in accordance to law 4760/20 (it was forwarded to the Ministry on 11/1/2021 with protocol number 23624). Ms. Nikolaou essentially confesses that her Administration is actively refusing to respond even negatively to the detainee’s request for transfer to strip him of his legal right to appeal her decision under article 9 par. 4 of the Penitentiary Code, which presupposes the detainee has received twice a negative decision on his transfer request.

 Article 6 of SK which Ms. Nikolaou last invoked, stipulates that in the event of an illegal act against a detainee or an illegal order, the detainee has the right to report in writing and within a reasonable time to the Prison Council, provided that, in accordance with the provisions of this Code, they have no other legal means at their disposal. This article, on the roles of the Council set up by a detention facility explicitly refers to illegal orders or actions that have taken place within a certain detention facility and not cases of transfer decisions by the KEM (central committee under the Minister) which are ruled by a separate framework.  In any case, Ms. Nikolaou “forgot” to include in her letter the last clause of article 6 of SK that would have made it clear that the article is not applicable in cases where the administration deprives, or criminally delays the possibility of exercising the legal remedies as in this case ( what is explicitly provided is that of article 9 par. 4 SK).

 In the face of the danger of an immediate death, a death the government seems to be actively seeking, a little sense of shame would not do bad to Mrs Nikolaou.

 But the crucial thing is different. In the face of the imminent death of a detained hunger striker, the administration invokes (unfounded in any case) legalisms to blame him. But the responsibility of the administration can no longer be hidden.

 That the prisoner must exhaust the legal means to go on a hunger strike is not specified anywhere, even if it was valid in this case (which, however, is not considering the administration interferes with the legal means available to the detainee). Does Ms. Nikolaou, believe that the prisoner should have taken the matter to the European Court of Human Rights and wait a year to actually go on a hunger strike? Her cynicism has no limit. The hunger strike, explicitly provided for and regulated as a means by the Penitentiary Code, is the last cry of agony of the prisoners in the face of the arbitrariness of the administration. And here we have not just got arbitrariness, but an orchestrated attempt to drive the detainee to despair from a dystopian state mechanism. First, the government passes a “photographic” law aimed specifically for him, which in itself constitutes a constitutionally dubious legislative process. Subsequently, the administration even violated this law and now is inviting the detainee to be more creative in his interpretations of the law if he is to find a way to seek justice, to seek the justice he is deprived of from that same establishment.

 But there is another provision that Ms. Nikolaou “forgot”, despite the fact that she herself implemented with her own decision. That of Article 9 Σ3 of the Code, according to which the Minister of Justice may order the transfer of a detainee for reasons related to the security of the country or public order and in case of urgency or when the disturbance of order and security of the prison is threatened, the transfer is ordered by the Secretary General of Anti-Crime Policy. What is more urgent than the protection of human life and the rule of law?

The effort and speed that Ms. Nikolaou showed to slander our lawyer and colleague, as has the “legal scholarship” she has engaged in with her personal decision to transfer Koufontinas from Volos to Korydallos and from Korydallos to Domokos on the same day, would have been far better fit, even at the very last minute, for the purpose of saving his life, the life of a man who is in the grip of a vengeful nightmarish administrative mechanism.

Statement from I. Kurtovic:

Government agencies and those holding public office are not allowed to insult, slander and use their office to distort the truth, silence the media and stifle any dissent (as shown in their battle to take down political pages and profiles on the Internet).

They must not lie in public, sign false statements, misinterpret the contents of legal provisions and confuse citizens, nor, of course, attack a detainee and his lawyer, under the guise of believing that they are safe in their position.

The gen. secretary of anti-crime policy, is lying once again, while the entire state power has been engaged in an organized attack using “cheat notes” in order to prepare their party’s response to criticism (how else does everyone, MPs, vice presidents, prime minister and relatives of victims appear to be aware of a prisoner’s judicial actions)? and try to defame and attack the striker by distorting the essence of the causes leading him to this extreme form of protest.

They tell us to go to court, knowing that this is not possible because the conditions set by the law are not met when it is specifically them making sure that those conditions would not be met.

They are trying to convince that an essentially powerless district court can stand up to a decision of the central political power, whose poisonous rhetoric has become the first topic in the news.

They accuse us of harassing the process (!!) without blushing, as, after having been purposefully  excluded from every legal right and every process, they insult a man experiencing the torment of food deprivation for 53 days (and refusal to drink fluids for many days) in the intensive care unit of a hospital.

They use the media who completely control public opinion to mislead the public to believe that a stamp in some form  constitutes the “decision” of a central body, which is untrue and especially when it comes to a critical decision concerning an adverse individual act and for which the law requires a special reasoning in order to be justified.

How clear and specific is a reasoning which according to press statements refers to the conviction for “terrorism” (which, however, does not apply in the case of the striker as he was not convicted of “terrorism” other than the common criminal provisions, as the word “terrorism” did not exist in law before 2004),

while in the body of her own decision (the only one she notified us) it concerns “public order and the proper operation of the prison facility” which, however, is refuted by the prison officials, as they confirm that no report has ever been made against the detainee. And when, in addition to the invocation of the emergency pandemic protection measure remains unjustified, as the transfer was made urgently from a case-free prison to one with covid-19 cases, from Cassavetia which has half the vacancies (137 people for 270 capacity) to a crowded prison (700 inmates for 600 capacity).

An entire Government has engaged in a war against a prisoner, and insults him because he reaches the extremes of life, driven by the government’s own vengeful violence, instead of standing with respect and a sense of responsibility for what it has caused and what is predicted to happen next.

We appealed to supreme judicial and state institutions and they looked away.

Can the judges of the district Court of Lamia really find the courage to give a solution to the crisis created by the political intransigence?

Ioanna Kurtovic

translation by @ximikesagkalies
editing by @antirinfo