From the Greek Helsinki Monitor:
The publisher Dimitrios Zafeiropoulos, editor Theodoros Georgiou (tried in abstentia) and columnist Theodoros Hatzigogos of the far-right weekly newspaper Eleftheros Kosmos were convicted of antisemitism yesterday.
They were found guilty for the violation of anti-racism Law 927/79 because in a 12 March 2006 text, “with undoubtedly offensive phrases, on the one hand they express hatred and contempt against the Jews and a wish that Jews no longer exist in Thessaloniki and in general, and on the other hand they directly deny and deride the fact of the annihilation of thousands of Jews by the Germans in concentrations camps during the Second World War.
Read the full text and the court ruling after the fold.
Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) welcomes today’s conviction by the Athens Eleventh Three-Member Misdemeanors’ Court “based on the indictment because there was an offense to the religious group of Jews,” as announced by the presiding judge Asimina Petropoulou-Salata (member judges Consatninos Velissaris and Harikleia Tsagarou) of far-right weekly “Eleftheros Kosmos” publisher Dimitrios Zafeiropoulos, editor Theodoros Georgiou (tried in abstentia) and columnist Theodoros Hatzigogos. They were found guilty for the violation of anti-racism Law 927/79 because, as said in the attached indictment, in a 12 March 2006 text, “with undoubtedly offensive phrases, on the one hand they express hatred and contempt against the Jews and a wish that Jews no longer exist in Thessaloniki and in general, and on the other hand they directly deny and deride the fact of the annihilation of thousands of Jews by the Germans in concentrations camps during the Second World War.” The trial’s prosecutor Stavros Sakellariou had previously asked for their conviction, arguing that “because of their journalistic function they knew that what they were writing was offensive to the Jews”. A sentence of seven months in prison was imposed on each person convicted: it was suspended for Georgiou and Hatzigogos who had no prior convictions and committed to a fine of 5 euros per day for Zafeiropoulos who has an irrevocable prior conviction to six months in prison. The execution of the sentences was suspended until a possible appeals trial.
An important element of the trial was that, at the beginning of the procedure, only GHM’s Andrea Gilbert, in charge of monitoring anti-Semitism and a Jew, constituted herself civil claimant (considering that she was directly offended by the text on trial) through GHM’s legal counsel Thanasis Tartis. The defendants filed an objection against the presence of the civil claimant. Following a prosecutor’s recomemndation to reject the objection, the court indeed accepted the presence of the civil claimant. After GHM’s civil claimant status was approved, based on that court decision, the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece (KIS)’s board members Moises Konstantinis and Avraam Reitan also asked to constitute themselves civil claimants, a request that was granted. So in the procedure of this trial three lawyers for the civil claimants participated. It is recalled that, in the previous Kostas Plevris – “Eleftheros Kosmos” trial, again for anti-Semitic texts, in December 2007, the GHM and KIS civil claimants had been expelled, so their lawyers did not participate in the procedure. Against that expulsion, an appeal was filed only by GHM which believes –based on extensive Greek and international case law- that civil claimants must be accepted in such trials: today’s ruling is a vindication of GHM in that point as well. A surprise of the trial was the unexplained absence of witnesses Spyros Vougias and Yannis Boutaris (both former candidates for mayor in Thessaloniki and the first also former PASOK minister and MP) who had testified during the preliminary investigation since the incriminating text was also offending to them. On the contrary, absent and excused (he was in Cyprus) was the remaining witness, Professor George Tsiakalos. GHM’s Panayote Dimitras, KIS’ Moises Konsantinis and Avraam Reitan, and Jewish Community of Thessaloniki’s Samouil Iosafat and Iakov Benmayor testified in the trial, along with two witnesses for the defense.
Finally, it is recalled that the case started with a complaint report filed by GHM with the Athens Chief Misdemeanors Prosecutor, on 12 March 2006. The Prosecutor launched a preliminary investigation which started with a filing of civil claimant status on 27 March 2006 by Andrea Gilbert, who also recommended as witnesses inter alia the KIS board members who also filed a civil claimant status on 29 March 2006; she also recommended as witnesses Spyros Vougias, Yannis Boutaris, George Tsiakalos –all three testified then- and Jewish Community of Thessaloniki’s President David Saltiel –who did not testify in the preliminary investigation, when Samouil Iosafat and Iakov Benmayor recommended by KIS, did testify. The case file was then “forgotten” for almost one year in some prosecutor office until 11 September 2007, literally on the eve of the 18-month prescription, when the defendants were summoned to trial. Now the prescription is suspended for two years; so the judgments must become irrevocable and final by 11 September 2009.
ATHENS MISDEMEANORS PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE
ELEVENTH THREE-MEMBER MISDEMEANORS COURT OF ATHENS
Violation of article 2 Law 927/1979, through the medium of the press, joint action.
1. Zafeiropoulos Dimitrios of Konstantinos
2. Georgiou Theodoros,
3. Hatzigogos Theodoros of Nikolaos
They are charged as liable that in Athens on 12 March 2006, acting jointly, publicly, through the medium of the press, and through a written text, they expressed ideas that are offensive to a group of individuals because of the national origin and the religion of those individuals, and specifically, in the above time and place, being the first publisher and director of the weekly newspaper “ELEFTHEROS KOSMOS,” the second editor-in-chief and the third journalist and columnist in the same newspaper, while abusing the press as a medium, filed and published in issue number 142 of the above-mentioned newspaper of 12 March 2006, a publication – article, written by the third of them, with the title “The Jews liven up Thessaloniki,” and with the following content: “Thank God, not even 1,500 are left in Thessaloniki, which the founder of Zionism Theodor Herzl was calling in the beginning of the 20th century ‘Second Jerusalem.’ Nevertheless, all the candidate rulers of the city are disgustingly sucking up to the descendents of Abraham in order to secure anti-racist credentials. The latest example has been the former Pasok MP and possible candidate for Mayor of Thessaloniki in the October elections, Spyros Vougias. This comrade, who at the age of 54 still pretends to be a ‘charmer,’ appeared last Saturday at the TV show of the narcissist and forty-something Vicky Flessa ([at the state channel] «???») and said verbatim… Spyros Vougias: ‘There is severe unemployment in Thessaloniki and especially there is the sense of a city which has lost its psychology and self-confidence. It has become introvert and phobic, it is afraid of the foreign and of the different, while Thessaloniki has a great experience in integrating and assimilating populations. It had of course the bad luck that its 50,000 Jews were annihilated by the Nazis in concentration camps. These Jews were giving a great vibrancy to the city. I am sorry to say this, but today Thessaloniki has become a provincial town!’ Exactly the same views on the decay of Thessaloniki after the supposed ‘saponification’ of the Jews were expressed some time ago by the other candidate for Mayor, well-known winemaker Giannis Mpoutaris. Who continues to admire Kemal Ataturk and insists on giving the name of this great son of Thessaloniki to Agiou Dimitriou street.” Therefore, the defenders, in their above functions, acting jointly, expressed through that published piece and in particular with the phrases “Thank God, not even 1,500 are left in Thessaloniki…” and “…after the supposed ‘soap-making’ of the Jews…”, publicly through the medium of the press ideas that are offensive to the Jews, since with the above undoubtedly offensive phrases, on the one hand they express hatred and contempt against the Jews and a wish that Jews no longer exist in Thessaloniki and in general, and on the other hand they directly deny and deride the fact of the annihilation of thousands of Jews by the Germans in concentrations camps during the Second World War.
They have thus violated articles 26§1a, 27 and 45 of the Criminal Code, article 2 of Law 927/1979, as this law has been amended through article 24 of Law 1419/1984, combined with article 71§4 of Law 3386/2005, and with articles 1,2, 4 and 47 of Compulsory Law 1092/1938, reintroduced through article 2§b of Law 10/1975, and only article of Law 2243/1994.
1. Dimitras Panayote.
2. Konstantinis Moisis.
3. Reitan Avraam.
4. Gilbert Andrea-Helen.
5. Tsiakalos Georgios.
6. Iosafat Samouil.
7. Benmayor Iakov.
8. Vougias Spyridon.
9. Boutaris Ioannis.