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live The court has found Vaxevanis not guilty

01 November 2012 / 22:11:06  GRReporter
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The trial against journalist Kostas Vaxevanis, who published in his "Hot Doc" magazine a list of 2,059 Greeks holding bank accounts in the British HSBC bank, began just after 10 am today. The indictment against him was for violation of the law on personal data protection.

The trial was interrupted minutes after its start, when his lawyers Harris Ikonomopoulos, Nikos Konstandopoulos and Dimitris Kapernaros said the indictment was invalid and inexplicit. There was a second interruption because Nikos Konstandopoulos noted that the indictment lacked the stamp of the prosecution.

Actually, the trial began at about twelve o’clock with the testimony of the first witness for the defence – the president of the International Federation of Journalists Jim Bumela who determined the arrest and the persecution against Kostas Vaxevanis as illogical. He said the reason for the publication of the "Lagarde list" was to protect the public interest, which Bumela defined as an "absolute obligation" of the journalist. As he pointed out, the public interest was before the private one. "The publication of the list should bring satisfaction in public life because journalism is a pillar of democracy," Bumela said in conclusion, adding that the news of the arrest of Kostas Vaxevanis had reached all press associations from Africa to America and everyone had stated that he published the truth.

The next witness was the chairman of the Journalist Union in Athens Dimitris Trimis. He said, "I'd do the same if I were him. Possessing a bank account is not part of personal data. We live in an age when we need transparency." He referred to the publication by the union of the names of journalists who work in government offices, "because democratic processes require it."

The third witness was a SYRIZA deputy and the daughter of one of the defenders of the journalist, Zoe Konstandopoulou. During the testimony that lasted almost two hours, she said that the arrest of Kostas Vaxevanis was an attack against democracy. According to her, "the only man who acted to reveal the truth is the object of persecution, while all those who contribute to its hiding act freely."

Zoe Konstandopoulou implied that the list might have been purchased. Her main argument was that during the government of George Papandreou, the costs for secret needs increased by 100 million euro. Singer Dimitra Galani testified as a witness for the defence as well.

A letter was received during the process from lawyer Frangiskos Ragousis, whose name is on the published list. He said he was against the persecution of Kostas Vaxevanis and supported him.

Kostas Vaxevanis’ speech started at 6.20 pm. For his part, the prosecutor required a guilty verdict, because he had published the names of account holders at the HSBC bank, not caring whether they had committed a violation or not.

After the announcement of the judgment, Kostas Vaxevanis wrote on Twitter, "Yes, you have won. Thank you." Economist Yiannis Varoufakis was also delighted by the news and commented, "The Greek investigative journalist Kostas Vaxevanis has been freed from guilt by a court in Athens. There is still hope that kleptocracies will be defeated. "

Fans of the journalist and his investigations wrote, "The rotten indictment for violation of the law on personal data protection collapsed like a tower made of cards." Even Greeks abroad reacted immediately:

"I woke up to the news that Kostas Vaxevanis has been found not guilty. Now the time has come for those on the Lagarde list to appear in court."

"It was a false alarm of media freedom. Vaxevanis is innocent. Now, Greek journalists can no longer pretend to be martyrs and do their job by taking the power, not by being its servants."

There are, however, reactions from the "enemy" camp too. "Vaxevanis is innocent. There is no problem. But as public services will soon have free access to information about the bank accounts of all citizens without a prosecutorial warrant, I do not want to hear anyone protesting that this was personal data, that violated the law and a military junta was governing us. Is it clear?"

Tags: PoliticsTrialKostas VaxevanisLagarde list
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