A shocking case of police violence in downtown Athens is literally making the comparison with torture in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq completely unambiguous. Greek daily To Vima presented court files for the beating of a man, aged 35, by five police officers, just because they had decided that he had wounded a colleague of theirs in an attempt to not be caught. It turned out, however, that he was not the perpetrator but a lawyer captured a little later.
"I was wrapped in a black trash bag that was filled with faeces, from the fear of torture. They put a gun to my eye. They threatened to kill me and hit me. Then, they made me hop on one leg. And when I could not do it, they hit me again."
This is part of the testimony of an Albanian, aged 35, who was captured some years ago by police officers from one of the central police stations of Athens and was subjected to unspeakable torture. The case has never been made public and has just recently reached the court. The accused police officers from the specific police station will be sued by the three-member appellate court for criminal offences.
The police officers misjudged that the Albanian had injured their colleague. Therefore, they subjected him to torture before which the cruelty against American soldiers in the prison in Iraq pales. Senior police officials determined the case as the most significant in the use of police violence during the past 20 years.
The developments happened on 7 December 2005. Police officers from the department fighting drug trafficking captured the 35-year-old Albanian and found a small amount of drugs with him. After his capture, a lawyer was arrested nearby, also because of suspected trafficking in drugs.
Subsequently, the lawyer was accused of shooting and wounding a police officer in an attempt to avoid the arrest. According to the court documentation, the foreigner who was captured during the first action was taken to a police station in Athens, where he was subjected to particularly brutal torture by police officers. As he described in his testimony, a female police officer had hit him even in the police car.
As he said, in the police station "Five men beat me. One of the police officers had taken an air pistol and struck me all over my body. I remember that the gun had some yellow stuff (plastic bullets) and he hit me in the eye. He hit my genitals, made me hop on my leg in a straight line and when I could not do it, he beat me again. When I fell, they told me to open my legs to be able to hit me in the genitals. Then, they raised me forcefully to beat me again. When I told them I wanted to go to the water closet, they said, "No, you dirty Albanian. Do it over yourself." I did it and then, they wrapped me to the waist in a black plastic bag to avoid the mess. They threatened me that I would never come out alive from there."
During the preliminary inquest, the brother of the 35-year-old arrested testified too. "I saw my brother, who was arrested, in the evening. He was wrapped in a black plastic trash bag to the waist, with excrement on him, one of his eyes was literally hanging down and his arms and legs were tied. My brother had a clean criminal record."
As stated in the forensic report and other court documents, "during his stay there, the foreigner aged 35 received bodily injuries caused by the actions of police officers from the specific police station. They hit him in the back, face and genitals, resulting in abrasions in both eyes, bruising on the right shoulder, haemorrhagic infiltrates in the hips and pleural pain when breathing. The type and intensity of the traumas on his body and head suggest that he was not hit symptomatically but systematically."
Although the arrested stated in his testimony that five police officers from the specific police station had beaten him, the responsible officers stated that only three people in uniform had declared their presence there at that time. The testimony surprised all officers and they said they did not know anything about the beating of the 35-year-old Albanian.