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Tension and protests at the beginning of the Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei trial

17 January 2011 / 22:01:59  GRReporter
6188 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova

The trial against the 13 members of the terrorist organization Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei started today in a hall located in the courtyard of the female prison in the Athens suburb of Korydallos and especially arranged for this purpose. Dozens of policemen were present in and outside the hall, and around the prison. The armored police van that transported the six detainees arrived exactly at 9 o'clock.

Harris Hadzimihelakis, George Karaianidis, Alexandros Mitrusias, Panagiotis Masuras, Panagiotis Argiru and Constantina Karakatsani and Manolis Giospas, Nikos Voiadzakis and Erikos Ralis that were released on bail sat in the dock. Accused are also Christos Tsakalos, Damiano Bollano and the two brothers George and Michalis Nikolopoulos wanted by the police.

According to the indictment, the 13 defendants will be sued for involvement in a terrorist organization and delivery, production and possession of explosive substances. The file describes the group's bombings in the yard of the house of the former Minister of Public Order Panagiotis Hinofotis, in the office of today's Labour Minister Louka Katseli and in the courtyard of the former Ministry of Macedonia and Thrace in Thessaloniki.

Attorneys, journalists and relatives of the accused in the process began to gather from early morning in front of the female prison in Korydallos. Those willing to attend the first major case of this kind after the trial of November 17 members had to undergo stringent checks.

Metal detector was installed still at the front door of the prison and two steps behind the visitors found themselves in explosives detector. Two policewomen entered the names of the visitors in a register after presenting their ID cards. Many of the media representatives commented negatively the fact that the police held the ID cards.

The process started later than planned because many of the lawyers and three defendants were late because of the checks at the entrance. There are 250 seats in the hall and the presence of at least 40 uniformed and plainclothes police officers tensed the atmosphere. The head of the judicial council explicitly prohibited shooting in the hall with cameras.

The nine defendants said they did not accept the indictment and did not recognize the court proceedings. They were seated in the centre of the hall to the desk of jurors. Police officers surrounded them all around and they were looking eye to eye with the first row of guardians. During the first break and after the Judge Varela had ordered the accused to stay in the hall a policeman in civilian clothes approached Panagiotis Masuras to handcuff him. The accused reacted angrily and some youths in the audience began to shout slogans in his support. The spirits calmed down for a while only after the defenders’ intervention.

Meanwhile, the hall was full of people. Family members, friends and associates of the defendants tried to attract their attention and to show them they were there. "We are with you, hold on," they cried, while the six detainees often turned back and exchanged smiles, but also raised fists together with their comrades.

"The hall is full of cops and journalists. There is no place for our comrades," said Harris Hadzimihelakis. This request which he himself described as a "requirement" was supported by the defenders who stressed that publicity of the trial is a prerequisite for its proper course. They asked police in civilian clothes to leave the room so that close friends of the defendants to take their seats.  

The defenders also noted the recording of the names of those present at the trial and the fact that the police kept their ID cards to give them back when they leave.

"The trial of the "criminal syndicate" as journalists called it is held in this hall in parallel. We are talking about habitual criminals, some of which have already been sentenced to life imprisonment and whose acts are really scary. But conditions even in their trial are much milder. No personal data of the present is recorded. Moreover, more than 50% of the attendees here are police officers," said lawyer Giannis Agiostratitis, adding that media terrorist hysteria on the threats against judges in the manifests of the organization affect their discretion. He and his colleagues also asked the defendants to stay in the hall without handcuffs during the breaks of the case and to talk freely with their defenders. "No collection of personal data to be used for other purposes" was the defenders’ common request.

The lawyer George Papadakis was more acute. He asked the photocopies of identity cards which the police made for its database to be cancelled and the lists be brought to see how many and which of those present were police officers. "They sit in the audience. I am a taxpayer and I can not accept that the police are paid to stay in the hall without being connected with the case instead of taking care of order in the streets." His words provoked the reaction of the audience that began to shout against the officers.

"They are not right to be here and hundreds of our comrades to stay outside because the cops did not allow them to go inside," said Panagiotis Argiru who was captured in early November, shortly before submitting the next parcel bomb to a courier company.

The third defenders’ request was the protocol to be recorded. Some even threatened that they would withdraw from the trial if this is not implemented.

Tags: Crime newsTrialStrict security measuresConspiracy of Fire Nuclei
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