Greece: 11th appeals trial hearing of anarchist-communist comrade Tasos Theofilou


Reporting by Giant and Sylvia for OmniaTV, translated into English by BlackCat for Insurrection News.

The hearing started with the testimony of an artist (oil painter) who said that he was with Tasos on the 10th of August (the day of the robbery) working on renovations inside the Immigrants’ Social Centre.

”I remember very specifically that we were together because it was the last open day of the Centre. Tassos helped out with the renovation and some transfers”. The witness also testified that he found out about Theofilou’s arrest on the 20th of August and immediately contacted one of his close friends. ”I offered to testify and inform the rest of the people who participated in the renovation project together” (…)” The man confirmed that Theofilou asked them not to testify at first as he did not wish to involve the social centre in the investigation, which is why they came forward after all the tension was over.

Papadakis: Were his fears about the centre being targeted, justified?

Witness: Yes, of course, things were very difficult back then, there had been attacks against immigrants by fascists (…)

Papadakis: Could you describe Theofilou’s appearance?

Witness: He had very short hair and was slightly unshaven.

Paparrousou: I remember the attack against the Immigrants Centre. Even the now-prime minister Tsipras, who was then a representative of the main opposition party, visited the centre after the grenade attack.

We must note at this point that the insistence of the civil action and the prosecutor on how it is possible for someone to discourage witnesses from confirming one’s alibi in order to protect them, shows their ignorance on what is going on in the world and what solidarity really means. Mrs. Paparrousou (one of Theofilou’s attorneys) stressed that ”the civil action cannot understand  the prosecutions leftists were subjected to, since a part of the society still remains in the dark about the conditions those affiliated with the left had to endure. The defendant was right in his choice to protect the people close to him. Theofilou’s arrest in 2012 was in the public eye, his actions were seen as part of the anarchist movement and the conditions were particularly hostile for anarchists due to the political climate back then. Every witness here bears responsibility, they would not come forward to testify just like that ”.

Next on the stand was G. Karathanasis, who had been previously called to testify but his testimony was not completed because the prosecution requested more time to study his expert report. This was an expert witness specializing in digital evidence and a professor at the Judicial Academy. Mr. Karathanasis outlined his arguments, used scientific facts and responded with dignity to the provocations and insults hurled at him by the civil action counsels who attacked his scientific credibility and expertise. The witness said that he believes very strongly that the robber with the cowboy hat and Theofilou are two different people. He was also able to identify a number of significant differences among the hat worn by the robber (as shown in the video footage) and the hat that was photographed as evidence, in terms of weaving and colour.

Appellate Judge: Is there a possibility to somehow measure facial characteristics or body parts such as legs or arms and compare the photographs and the video in order to come to the conclusion that this is not the same person?

Witness: Technically it is not possible, these measurements concern photogrammetry which basically means that spatial measurements should have been taken inside the bank. This might seem simplistic, but it is obvious that the body structure of the defendant and the perpetrator is completely different. Because of my position as an expert and technician, I cannot provide specific measurements, I cannot specify the difference in the width of their shoulders in centimetres for example, I cannot measure that and it is not appropriate to make a judgement that encourages the eye-witness logic.

Appellate Judge: The discrepancy of what you were ordered to examine with the conclusion you just made, is obvious.

Witness: When someone poses a question, especially when one is not familiar with the restrictions that exist on a technical level, then they can ask for anything they think can be investigated. But the contribution of an expert analysis is very different.

Appellate Judge: Why did you not include in the report what you just said?

Witness: I recorded all the aspects that could contribute something based on the laboratory  analysis. There was a plethora of questions that were completely unjustifiable.

The civil action counsel went on with questions that were odd and irrelevant to the case and targeted the witness’ expertise, while comments were made implying the political orientation of the witness. The witness responded to the provocations very calmly and submitted documents that prove his scientific capacity and his employment at the Judicial Academy. As a result, the lawyer interrupted the witness constantly.

Civil Action: Based on the order you received which characteristics were you asked to examine?

Witness: Hair, beard, skin colour.

Civil Action: Was this the order?

Witness: My order was to examine the individual characteristics (those that make one person differ from another)

Civil Action: So tell us what these characteristics are.

Presiding Judge: He just mentioned them.

Witness: Hair style, hair thickness, marks on the skin (Interrupted by civil action counsel)

Civil Action: Is a hairstyle an individual characteristic? Do you actually insist on that? And you have a master’s degree!

At this point there was tension in the audience as people started shouting ”shame”  right after the insulting comments of the counsel. While the presiding judge advised the counsel to stop insulting the witness, she awkwardly tried to justify her hostility by saying: ”I have doubts about his scientific justification, not his sufficiency”.

Civil Action: What was the difference in terms of skin colour among the robber and the defendant based on photographs that were taken by the police? How were you led to the conclusion that these are two distinct people?

Witness: The skin tone of the robber has a light shade that is more pale. If you want to make this specific,  it is not part of my expertise to talk about colour, scientifically, we speak of tones and shades, not colour. In contrast, the defendant’s skin tone on the photos taken by forensics specialists is redder and darker.

Moreover, based on the witness’ testimony there is a great difference in how hairy the arms of the two men are. Another difference was also identified in the hat worn by the perpetrator in the video and the hat that was photographed as evidence, which differ in terms of shade and how tight the weaving was. The perpetrator’s hat looks more rigid in comparison to the evidence, since the robber moves a lot and it remains in place.

Mr. Karathanasis mentioned that there were no signs of struggle on the parts of the defendant’s body which remained uncovered. At this point the civil action showed a photo taken by forensic scientists where Theofilou’s eye is shown swollen and red and asked why the witness did not refer to this mark. The counsel had forgotten that the robbers were wearing glasses which did not fall down during the fight. The actual issue here was whether any signs of struggle on the uncovered parts of the perpetrator’s body could be identified with those of Theofilou (scratches, bruises, etc).

This caused Tasos Theofilou to intervene by saying: ”You did not ask Chardalias nor Marinopoulos (anti-terrorism cops) for this mark”.

It is widely known that Theofilou was assaulted by antiterrorism cops during his arrest.

Next, questions were posed by the defence attorneys.

Papadakis: Did the order you were given exclude or ignore certain things?

Witness: The order was too broad because the person that gave it is not an expert in order to understand certain restrictions. (…) The choice of criteria of comparisons follows a certain process.

A lot of time was spent discussing the possibility to remove the captions from the footage which covers important aspects of the case, such as the fight among Michas (the victim) and the robbers.

As the prosecutor supported that the captions could be removed, the witness responded that technically that is not possible since the footage was recorded with the caption. The removal of the caption should have taken place at the beginning, during the extraction of the video, because it is not possible to do it afterwards.

Prosecutor: Where did you get the video?

Paparrousou: Where are you going with this? Are you suggesting that the defendant tampered with the footage? The witness said that he received the video from the defence counsel and had already watched it during a previous trial hearing.

Just to note here that during the display of footage, it was asked from the court technician to remove the caption. The technician said that it was not possible, citing reasons that were identical to Mr Karathanasis’ arguments.

Paparrousou: I want to apologize for having your credibility doubted, when we want to discredit a witness at court, we usually resort to questions that concern his qualifications. But, I would also like to ask you something.  Your science suggests another logic in contrast to the logic of an eye-witness. Do you propose the use of a scientific method?

Witness: Of course, I try not to mislead but help the court as an expert witness, so I cannot enter the logic of eye witnesses.

Paparrousou: What courses do you teach at the Judicial Academy?

Witness: I teach modules on the use of digital media and investigating the originality of digital evidence.

Paparrousou: At court we often examine digital media and eveyone seems to have his/her own subjective opinion, however we are no experts at this. Do you believe that a scientific method must be incorporated or would a subjective judgement suffice?

Witness: In relation to what I saw in this report (meaning the notes taken by the presiding judge during the first instance trial), those were things I was not able to determine scientifically.

Paparrousou: So we must find a way out of the use of subjective criteria and those: ”I think it looks like him/I think it was not him/ I saw him on the side” statements. A phrase used by the police was ”He looks similar”. Therefore, the method you propose helps to avoid errors made by eye witnesses.

At this point the trial was interrupted earlier than expected because one of the appellate judges became ill.



This entry was posted in Anarchist Communist Prisoners, Anarchist Prisoners, Athens, Fire To The Judiciary, Greece, Repression, Tasos Theofilou. Bookmark the permalink.