Second hearing of the trial of Tassos Theofilou
by Sylvia & Giant
With the provocative statements and behavior of the prosecution, started the second hearing of the trial of appeals of Tassos Theofilou, on Tuesday, 20th of December. The sister of the dead taxi driver Demetris Michas, changed her initial testimony and now recognizes Tassos Theofilou as the one who fought with and shot her brother “based on what she found out” while stating she had watched footage which was unpublished at the time and recognized Theofilou.
During the trial, her son, who accompanied his mother, prevented anyone wanting to sit down in the audience from walking in front of him, while during his departure he spat towards Tassos Theofilou’s mother, who was outside the appellate court talking to a member of Omnia TV and another girl from the audience.
At the beginning of the hearing the presiding judge asked the defendant about his plea regarding the changes and Theofilou responded that he denies all charges. Then, the defence attorneys submitted their requests.
The first request of the defense concerned the possibility to keep audio records of the trial in order to safeguard the credibility of the court, after the failure to keep accurate records of everything during the trial of first instance. The lawyers stressed that important parts of the procedure, such as the orations of two defence attorneys and the comments made by the presiding judge, were entirely lost. During an intervention, Mr. Fyrakis also highlighted that the avoidance to keep to keep audio records in trials like this, serves political motives.
The prosecutor Mrs. Anna Kalouta suggested that keeping audio records is not necessary since, among other factors, there is a lack of equipment. After the judges conferred, they announced that the request is denied due to technical difficulties, as the Justice Ourania Papadakis put it, despite the request being seen in a positive light by the judges.
The second request was about the order of examination of the witnesses, since, according to the defence, the existing order would threaten the impartiality of the trial as the antiterrorism officers would come first, giving the impression that the accused is a member of a terrorist organization, an impression that has been accentuated by the mass media. This request was denied by the judges and the prosecutor and the examination of the witnesses began immediately.
The first witness was Mrs. Micha-Bekiari, the sister of the dead taxi driver. The presiding judge asked for the witness to say what she generally knows about the case.
Mrs Micha-Bekiari described how and in which way she was informed of her brother’s death and how she saw his body for the first time at the hospital. Then she testified that following her brother’s funeral, she was approached by some women who offered their condolences and one of them, named Anna Emmanouilidou, owner of a coffee shop in Naousa, where the victim was having coffee before his fight with the perpetrator, told her in detail that her brother was fighting with the one of the perpetrators, the one wearing a cowboy hat who eventually shot him and he dropped dead.
Following a question of the presiding judge on whether she knew more, she added that in the next few days after Theofilou’s arrest, she went on the internet and saw the footage from the robbery and knew that Theofilou was the same as the robber who was wearing the cowboy hat. The witness spoke of complete resemblance despite the fact that, the perpetrator, as she said, was wearing glasses and a hat.
The testimony of the victim’s sister caused a reaction in the audience and the defence attorneys, with the latter posing questions as to why she did not say any of these during the first trial. Her answer was that she was never asked.
The defence outlined all the contradictions and changes the witness made compared to her initial testimony.
Mr. Papadakis, representing the defendant, asked how is it possible to not have ever mentioned any of these during the trial of first instance, when in fact she did mention a woman who had given her condolences named Effie and said she did not remember the exact name and now she changes the name and provides the exact information without even notifying her lawyers for the existence of this crucial eye-witness. A. Paparrousou asked the same question and concluded this was clearly to suggest the guilt of the defendant. The witness said repeatedly that she did not remember these due to intense psychological distress and was not even asked by the presiding judge of the first instance trial.
The defence emphasized the following contradictions: the video from the robbery was still unpublished ten days after the murder and it was not possible to have been on the internet since it was made available for the first time by Alpha Bank on the 6th of December, amid the first trial, and the witness was not even allowed to watch it then and was required to wait outside the courtroom since she was a prosecution witness. Despite that, she claimed to have watched it day and night, continuously, and that is how she identified the arrestee as the perpetrator. Another issue is that during the first trial she had not recognized Theofilou, a fact which Mr. Paparrousou said, shows that the strategy folllowed by the prosecution is “finish him up”, commonly “claim everything you can in order to get him convicted”.
The defence clarified that this should not have been tolerated, because as much as we respect the witness’ suffering, the fact that she never identified the defendant before and never said any of these to the police, to the court or the interviews she often gives on tv, is suspicious.
It is widely known that the witness appeared on the TV show Epsilon, hosted by Tatiana Stephanidou, right after the first hearing of the appellate court, where a media trial was staged, with accusations and conclusions which constitute an insult to the judicial procedure and the judges, with Mrs Stephanidou taking the role of the presiding judge expressing that Theofilou is a member of the CCF while Mrs Micha-Bekiari and her son nodded in accordance, as if the fact that Theofilou was never found guilty on this charge did not matter.
Despite the media’s effort to convict Theofilou once more through their own trials and verdicts, again Mrs Micha did not mention watching the video footage of the robbery ten days following her brother’s murder causing her to identify Theofilou as the perpetrator.
Had the witness actually watched the video, stated K.Papadakis from the defence, then Alpha Bank must inform the court on whether there were private viewings of the footage and whether there was a collaboration with the prosecution.
Mr. Papadakis asked the judges to take note of the witness’ name Mrs Micha-Bekiari mentioned, since eye-witnesses should be called to testify in court. It is not possible, said the lawyer, for someone to have this kind of information, keep it from the police and the court and then wait for four years to give the information.
The contradictions of the witness were to such an extent that even the presiding judge said “I understand your suffering but you must be careful because these are very serious charges for a young man who might even be innocent, or might be guilty, so we must be very careful”.
We should note here that in case Tassos Theofilou gets convicted the way is paved for the witness to file suit and receive compensation.
It is extremely strange that after four years this witness gained her lost memory and testified about this critical new information which she never mentioned to the police or to the court.
Next, Eleftherios Hardalias from the anti-terrorism police was called to the stand, while the defense submitted a request to exempt the witness, since according to the law someone who conducts the interrogations on a case cannot be called as a witness. The prosecutor denied that this constituted a reason to exempt the witness and eventually the request was not accepted by the judge.
The examination of the witness starts with the presiding judge’s question on his knowledge of the C.C.F. and the possible involvement of the defendant in the organization.
Hardalias gave some general information about the C.C.F. and says that Theofilou was seen for the first time at the kebab shop ‘Savvas’ in Kallithea at the end of November 2010 where he met Kostas Sakkas, bought food, went to Sakkas’ house, stayed there for a few hours and then took a cab and went to a hangout in Exarcheia with Christos Politis (note: he had been accused of being a member of the organization but was not even tried since he was acquitted following a prosecution verdict).
Then, according to Hardalias, he was seen for the second time in Agrinio, when he got off a bus which Karagiannides was also on and carrying two bags ( note: on that day there is a relevant document proving that Theofilou was in Athens where he had signed the delivery of a router). He mentioned that Theofilou did not communicate Karagiannides and his purpose was termed as ‘counter-surveillance’ during the court of first instance.
Later he testified that they received an anonymous phone call saying that “someone with the name Tassos related to terrorism is moving around the city-centre of Athens and participated in the Paros robbery”. Then he was ‘found’ and due to resisting his detention he was put under arrest – which was the main reason why his DNA was extracted in the first place.
Then he and his colleagues “remembered that this was the same person seen 2 years ago in Athens and Agrinio”.
Hardalias went on to talk about Paros, praised the DNA method and stated that the hat had not been photographed on the crime scene because it was collected immediately since “the waves break there and it was busy”. He also claimed that the DNA sample on the hat was a unique and complete sample.
To the very reasonable question of the presiding judge on how is it possible for a hat to have the genetic material of only one person and not even that of the sales person at the store where it was sold he answered “maybe the person who wore it cleaned it” causing the judge to further ask “did he clean the DNA of the salesman but left there his own?” causing the laughter of the audience.
Then the cross examination started. When Hardalias was asked in relation to the anonymous phone call, he replied that there is no call recognition system installed in the anti-terrorism HQ and any call related information is kept in the form of informal notes, which are later destroyed.
Hardalias said they aimed to detain Theofilou in order to conduct an interrogation and his ‘accidental’ resistance (a charge which he was found innocent in another trial) was the reason why they took a DNA sample and compared it with the genetic material found on the hat.
At this point the lawyers commented at how obvious the strategy of the anti-terrorism police is, since without Theofilou’s arrest, there would have been no DNA and no possibility to claim that Theofilou was present at the robbery – which obviously is what the anti-terrorism police intended to do.
Regarding the sudden appearance of the hat which was not listed in the forensics records and is not shown in the photographs from the crime scene, Hardalias repeated that it’s because “waves break right next to where it was” and there was a crowd, so his colleagues collected it before it was photographed. The attorney Mr. Papadakis reminded him that no wave breaks right next to the spot where the hat was allegedly found since it is far from the coastline and the crime scene around the dead body was secured with police tape preventing access.
To the persistent questions of the defence regarding the DNA method that was used, Hardalias, who had earlier praised the method and claimed that the sample was complete no longer had an opinion and expertise and kept answering with “I do not know”.
The next hearing will be held on the 10th of January where the examination of the prosecution witnesses will continue starting with the anti-terrorism members.
Anarchist newspaper Apatris reports on the third hearing of Tassos Theofilou
The third hearing of the trial of appeals was today, with the examination of the prosecution witnesses, two of which are employed by Alpha Bank and one who happens to be a taxi driver and colleague of Michas. None of the prosecution witnesses recognized Tassos Theofilou as a possible perpetrator of the robbery.
The hat, the main incriminating evidence which is said to contain Theofilou’s DNA, is, according to the witnesses testimonies, different than the one shown by the anti-terrorism unit as the hat of the perpetrator. When the witnesses saw the hat in pictures, they declared their certainty in that this hat bears no resemblance, in shape and type, to the one the perpetrator was wearing during the robbery.
The difference in the hands of Tassos Theofilou and the perpetrator was illustrated through comparing the photographs taken on the day of his arrest and footage from the bank and this was confirmed from an eye witness’s testimony. The presiding judge herself also came to this conclusion.
The next hearing will be held on February the 3rd.