Τετάρτη, 10 Απριλίου 2013

Cases of police violence and police torture

Despite constant convictions of Greece by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) for torture and abuse (in 2011-2012 Greece was convicted for torture and ill-treatment nine times) and despite the reports and the recommendations of international bodies and human rights organizations
police arbitrariness and police impunity are at present almost everyday occurrences.  The Ministry of Public Order and Citizens’ Protection but also the Government and the justice system protect the perpetrators in almost all cases.
Some exemplary incidents of police violence and torturing of detainees in police stations are here recorded.

April 2011, Piraeus: A twenty years old Rumanian woman was arrested in Piraeus by coastguards and was driven to the interrogation office of the Coast Guard, where she was tortured, according to her statement. ‘”I declared it right off, but they started to slap me. They were asking me in Greek but I didn’t understand … and they continued to beat me harder … in the Coast Guard they were beating me badly, especially on my hands. They handcuffed me on my back and they put a bag on my head. They put the bag on my mouth twice. Later on, one of the officers drove me to a room. We were alone, me and him, and he started to mess about with me, to fondle my breasts and things like that. Then he started beating me. More officers came in. They were asking me all the time ‘do you want to take a blow-job?’, ‘do you like blow-jobs?’ I have a big scar on the back of my foot. I don’t know how they hurt me. I lost consciousness three times. One officer kicked my bottom. I had no grip on what was going on …”

Cases that were brought before court in 2012
2009-2012 Arivan Osman Aziz: On 3 April 2009 Arivan Osman Aziz, a Kurdish Iraqi migrant, was reportedly beaten severely by a coastguard officer in the port of Igoumenitsa. Arivan died as a result of his injuries on 27 July 2009. A state’s medical examiner’s report that was ordered in the framework of the criminal investigation concluded that Arivan suffered serious head injuries caused by force either because he fell face down on the ground or because his head was banged against a blunt surface. The post-mortem showed that Arivan’s death was caused by a serious head injury. The criminal investigation into the case is still ongoing and the sworn administrative inquiry has been postponed pending the results of the criminal investigation.

2001-2012 Necati Zontul, Crete: In case of Necati Zontul v. Greece brought before the ECtHR, the applicant, a Turkish national, claimed that he was subjected to torture by being sexually abused by a coastguard in Crete in May 2001; that the Greek courts had imposed an inadequate penalty on the officers involved in his abuse, as his rape with a truncheon was characterized not as torture but as a lesser offence of “other violations against human dignity”; and that the authorities had not conducted a thorough, fair and impartial investigation into his case.
In a ruling issued in January 2012, the ECtHR unanimously found a violation of Article 3 on account of the applicant’s treatment by the authorities and their refusal to allow him to be involved in the criminal proceedings as civil claimant. The Court, recalling previous case law, stated “that the rape of a detainee by an official of the State was to be considered as an especially grave and abhorrent form of ill-treatment” and concluded that the treatment that Necati Zontul was subjected amounted to torture.

2004-2012 Afghan nationals in Aghios Panteleimon: Police officers reportedly ill-treated a group of Afghan nationals, including many minors, at a guesthouse in Aghios Panteleimon on 14 and 15 December 2004, while carrying out an unofficial police search for an Afghan national who had escaped from custody. Moreover, two Afghan refugees were reportedly subjected to torture, including falanga (beating on the soles of the feet), at the Aghios Panteleimon police station. The victims reported the incident to NGOs including Amnesty International and the case received wide publicity. Of the several police officers who were involved in this incident (according to the testimonies of the victims), only two were eventually identified and referred to trial – a special guard and a police officer.
The two officers were charged with torturing the two Afghan refugees during the interrogation at the police station. One of the officers was also charged with using falanga (a capital offence torture) against one of the refugees. Both officers were charged with causing aggravated unprovoked bodily harm to 11 other Afghan nationals at the guesthouse.
In December 2011 the Athens Mixed Jury Court found the two officers guilty of causing bodily injuries and harm, constituting “violations against human dignity” under Article 137(A) (30, to the two Afghan refugees and of causing unprovoked bodily harm to five of the other Afghan national, not guilty of torture. The sentences were converted to fines and were suspended pending appeal.
On March 2012 a Mixed Jury Appeal Court in Athens acquitted the two officers of causing bodily harm, actually of torturing the two Afghan refugees, on the grounds of reasonable doubt.

Cases of the last 9 months

13 July 2012, Aghios Panteleimon Police Station: A British tourist went to the police station to declare the theft of her cellphone. When she asked for a document to declare the theft, police officers insulted her and hit her on the face, arms and legs, causing her visible injuries all over her body. Later police officers filed a complaint against her for insult and violation of  house peace.

16 July 2012, Nomismatokopeio metro station: During a police control police officers brutality hit Gorgi Matei, because he had the same name with Sorin Matei (a fugitive who was killed during an operation to free a hostage),

21 July 2012, Kolonos Athens: Police officers from the motorbike police (DIAS) step on the stomach of a handcuffed immigrant who was already arrested. Petros Kapetanopoulos intervened saying to the police officers: “Why are you stepping on him? you have already arrested him”, this resulted to another stronger hit to the immigrant. Both were arrested and Kapetanopoulos was accused of filing false , resisting arrest, attempted release of prisoner and abetting  robbery. Eventually the accusation of abetting robbery was dropped after the reactions of human rights organizations and civil society.

25 July 2012, Liosion street Athens: Police officers stormed a house of immigrants in Liosion street asking them to give them whatever money they have. Three immigrants escaped through the risk ladder and one remained at home. When he told them that he had no money he was thrown from the 3rd floor balcony.

14 August 2012, Aigaleo Police Station: According to a report from the pakistan community, police officers inside the Aigaleo police station pulled with pliers the nails of an immigrant detainee and shaved the moustache of another one.

26 September 2012, Zografou Athens: Day of a general strike. There is a call for a gathering in Gardenias square in Zografou. Riot Police and motorbike police raided the gathering brutally beating the protesters. 24 people were arrested, including ten minors, they were all mistreated inside the police station, while their photographs were published on the police website. 

30 September 2012,
Attica General Police Directorate (GADA): Police raided an antifasist motorcyle protest in Kypseli arresting 15 protesters. During their detention in GADA they were sunjected to mistreatment, insults, beating and threats, while one was hit on the spine with a Taser.

1 October 2012, Evelpidon, Court: Hundreds of people were gathered in solidarity with the 15 arrested protesters of the previous day outside the court. Riot police attacked the gathering arresting 25 people. In GADA the arrestees were forced to strip naked , bend over and open their back passage in front of police officers, who were beating them.

16 October 2012, Omonoia Athens: A SouthKorean tourist is arrested in Omonoia square during the police operation “Xenios Dias”(an operation for detaining illegal immigrants). When he asked the police officers to show him their id cards, he was brutally beaten. Police officers apologised for the incident after a complaint by the Ambassador of South Korea.

1 January 2013, Amygdalesa, Detention Center for Immigrants: An eleven year old immigrant was brutally beaten in new year's eve, and suffered spleen rupture. Police officially denies the incident and speaks only for “stomach upsets”.

21 October 2012, Chania Crete:
Joel Stirling, 29, says he  was kidnapped, beaten and robbed by Greek police during his stay in the island of Crete. According to him, two police officers, who cuffed his hands behind his back, pushed him into a car and put a sack over his head. At the police station, he says he was kicked to the ground, beaten and robbed of his wallet, carrying around $200. Police denies the incident.

26 December 2012, Moshato Police Station: Jafer Kourt a quadriplegic Turkish refugee, was kept chained by police officers, after a stale complaint for threat using a knife.

2 February 2013, Kozani: After the arrest of 4 anarchists in Kozani for robbery, Greek Police published their photographs in which they appeared -dispite the photoshop editing- brutally beaten. According to the father of one arrestee: “He was trasfered to Security, locked in a room, with his hands cuffed behind his back, they put him down on his knees wearing a sack over his head and beat him for hours. Not for interogation, for torturing him. They were only asking him “What is your name? Where are you from?”. He was not answering, he was saying nothing and they were beating him in the head for hours. Regular torture. Nothing to do with interrogation.” The police claims in its official report that only ‘legitimate and justified use of force was exercised during the arrest’, while the Minister of Public Order and Citizen' s Protection declares that the processing of images with photoshop was done in order for the offenders to be recognised.

12 February 2013, Nikaia Police Station: 12 immigrants, which are detained in the police station, started a hunger strike after the beating of an immigrant by a police officer. This practice is not limited to this incident. In 2009 Moxamed Kamran died, after he had been brutally beaten and electroshocked by police officers inside Nikaia police station.

14 February 2013, Drapetsona police station:  Prisoners started a hunger strike for the unjustified extension of their detention. The response from the police was repression, beatings and the disperse of prisoners at other police stations, such as  Aspropyrgos police station, in which they also received threats. On the eighth day of the hunger strike, Palestinian Ibrahim Faraj fainted and according to testimonies of fellow prisoners, the police in order to cure him gave him to drink shampoo! On 21 March 2013 Ibrahim attempted suicide. The outrageous is that the Palestinian refugee few days after attempting suicide, and despite the clear statement that he will attempt to put an end to his life again, he was held in the same police station with the same guards who pushed him to this act.

February- March 2013, Skouries Chalkidiki: After an incident of arson on the premises of the gold mines in the region, against which there is a mobilization of the local community, police conducted an anti-terrorism operation during which  called for consideration of more than 100 residents of Ierissou and the nearby village of Megali Panagia on the case of arson. During this operation, in 20th of February 2013, two residents were tranfered without their consent to the headquarters of Police and were held for hours without any charge, while police, according to their destimonies, declared to their relatives and lawyers that  had no information about them. According to reports, lawyers were denied access to the police station during the examination of the residents, even though they had asked for lawyers. Moreover, the lawyers said that many residents were intimidated in order to give DNA sample, and told they were faced with accusations of insubordination if they refused to give their DNA. Residents whose DNA was obtained, reported that a paper to sign was given to them, under which they gave their consent. Ten residents who initially refused to give DNA, were allegedly forced to do so. Some residents also claimed to have been illtreated during the examination.

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