Omnia TV’s Sylvia and Giant report from the courtroom
The fifth hearing of the appeals trial of Tasos Theofilou took place on Friday 10.02. During the hearing, none of the prosecution witnesses recognized Tasos Theofilou as one of the perpetrators.
Also, Theofilou came to court unshaven for the past 8 days in order to expose another contradiction of the case against him: according to CCTV footage and eye-witnesses the robber was clean-shaven. Eight days following the incident, Theofilou’s beard as it appears in mugshots, could not have grown the size it was in that short period of time.
The first witness was Christos Kefalas, resident of Paros island. His testimony was about seeing an abandoned motorcycle in the area of Limanaki and how it seemed suspicious. Next was the testimony Nikolas Skouloudis, assistant electrician, employed by a previous witness. This witness described everything he saw from the moment the robbers came out of the bank. He mentioned they were all wearing hats, glasses and scarves.
He also said that he could not recall any specific characteristic of the man who shot Michas.
“I heard gunshots and saw Michas approaching and punching one of the robbers. The robber fell on the ground after the blow. Then the other two robbers were onto Michas, an embroilment erupted and the one lying on the ground possibly shot Michas. I have no recollection of the type of clothing he wore.”
Then he was shown the notorious hat and the witness said that the colour did not remind him of anything.
Skouloudis testified that at some point one of the robbers came near them and they looked each other in the eyes two or three times. He said the robber was not wearing glasses at that time. He also mentioned he does not recognize Theofilou’s eyes as bearing any similarity to the eyes of the robber. Skouloudis also mentioned that he did not see a hat fall during the robbers’ get-away or during the embroilment with Michas. He testified that he left the scene with Sakikis right after the robbery and saw 3-4 people aboard a boat heading to Naxos island, despite the bad weather (strong winds 8-9 Beaufort). He also said that he saw the smoke from a fire lit afar. He reported the incident to the coastguard regarding the boat and since then he discovered that the passengers were acquaintances of his. The coastguard let them go as soon as officials realized the identity of the passengers without conducting any search on the boat. This fact raises questions since the police failed to focus on the immediate environment and failed to investigate accordingly.
Skouloudis: We left and it seems we followed the same route as the robbers.
Presiding Judge: Do you know how the robbers fled the scene? Are you aware of that fact?
Skouloudis: Via a dark-coloured car.
Presiding Judge: And where were you headed?
Skouloudis: We headed to Ambelas. We worked in a swimming pool in that area.
Presiding judge: And you saw a boat, you said?
Skouloudis: We saw a boat leaving the island.
Presiding Judge: And there were high waves.
Skouloudis: Yes, 8-9 Beaufort.
Presiding Judge: Were you under the impression that the perpetrators were on that boat?
Skouloudis: That’s what we thought of it, yes. Because we saw a fire burning about 150-200 metres away. That’s where they set the car alight, based on what he heard afterwards. We saw the fire and said it’s them.
Presiding Judge: What’s the distance between the crime scene and Ambelas?
Skouloudis: Approximately 10km
Presiding Judge: What was the road like?
Skouloudis: 80% is asphalt and from a point onward it’s unpaved.
Presiding Judge: So how long would it take to get there by car?
Skouloudis: If I remember correctly about 10-15 minutes.
Presiding Judge: So you got scared and left immediately.
Presiding Judge: So, essentially you were driving right behind the robbers.
Skouloudis: Yes we left after 30-40 seconds later.
Presiding Judge: Did you not come across them on the road?
Skouloudis: the owner of the boat happens to be an acquaintance of mine.
Presiding Judge: When did you testify?
Skouloudis: We were arrested at the port as if we were the robbers.
Skouloudis: After we got to the construction site and sat to have a smoke, have some coffee and calm down, we saw the boat leaving.
Presiding Judge: How many times had you been to Paros?
Skouloudis: This was the third time. The third consecutive weekend.
Presiding Judge: How were you able to recognize the boat that you saw leaving?
Skouloudis: I did not. I only saw a boat and got worried.
Presiding Judge: You said he was an acquaintance of yours.
Skouloudis: After a month when I was talking about it with friends, I was told ”we were arrested then”. They had gone fishing. They were licensed or I m not sure what it was.
Presiding Judge: Locals?
Skouloudis: From Naxos.
Papadakis: How is it possible to have gone fishing when the wind is 8 Beaufort? Was it that urgent? What did you find out more about this?
Skouloudis: They went fishing the previous night and were leaving the day after.
Papadakis: Do you know whether your report was investigated? There has never been a single piece of information included in the case file regarding the identity of this boat and any investigation that might have been conducted, even if it were just to assess any possible relation to the robbery and the robbers’ get-away.
Skouloudis: It was investigated, I heard that from the coastguard in Naxos.
Papadakis: What did you find out?
Skouloudis: That they were stopped and eventually the officers saw it was them and did not conduct a search because they are well-known on the island.
Presiding Judge: You said you saw his eyes.
Skouloudis: Yes I also the kid (means Theofilou). I saw him last time as well, I do not remember him.
Presiding Judge: Are they similar?
Skouloudis: The eyes at least, cannot be easily forgotten. Especially in this kind of incident.
Presiding Judge: So his eyes are not familiar?
Skouloudis: I saw him last time too, he is not familiar.
Skouloudis: I remember looking into each other’s eyes 2-3 times. If his eyes were blue (like Theofilou) I would remember that.
Next witness on the stand was Samios Fanourios, a bank customer who happened to be in the bank during the robbery. Fanourios mentions that the robbers were wearing hats but does not remember the specific type of the hat. The questions mainly focused on clarifying his initial testimony and especially a statement regarding the robbers being highly educated and how he derived that conclusion. The counsels also asked him to clarify what he meant when he stated that the robbers were probably outcasts who targeted the system and pose themselves against the capital.
Samios: They took the money from the counter and reached a point…
Presiding Judge: Your money.
Samios: He counted them. After taking taking the money from the drawer the bank teller said “This money belongs to our customer.” And then one of them said we do not take people’s money.
Prosecutor: You had provided the explanation that “these were not petty criminals, but robbers with an identity who have targeted the system and are against the capital.”
The prosecutor highlighted this particular phrase in many occasions. According to the witness, it was the robber’s statement which led to his judgement about them.
Papadakis: In your initial deposition you stated that the one with the cowboy hat approached the counter where you were also standing and the bank teller Mrs. Peppa said to the robber that the money in front of her had been counted and was yours. Then the robber asked if the money was indeed his and when the customer confirmed that, he said we do not take money from customers.
Mr. Papadakis asked Theofilou to speak in order for the witness to say whether he recognizes the voice. The witness said that he did not recognize the voice of defendant as that of the robber.
Papadakis: Who initiated the discussion over the money of the customer, the robbers or Mrs. Peppa?
Samios: They collected the money and when they got to mine which had been counted, Mrs Feefa (Note: he meant to say Mrs Peppa) said that the money belongs to the customer.
Papadakis: So all those who aren’t ‘mini-market robbing’ petty-criminals and decide to rob a bank- are they as a whole anti-authoritarians?
Samios: That is not what I meant.
Papadakis: Do you know of any bank robber who ever took customers’ money?
Samios: I have no such experience. It so happened that they did not take my money.
Papadakis: If you do not have any other relevant experience how could you conclude that their refusal to take the money defined their political ideology?
Samios: I was asked a question and meant that they were not petty thieves. This was something different.
Papadakis: You answered in all good faith but those who posed this question constructed a scenario based on the very fact that the defendant is an anti-authoritarian and they are trying to use this incident to secure his conviction. So I repeat: have you ever heard in your life of bank robbers stealing customers’ money along with the money stored in the bank?
Papadakis: Are bank robberies committed exclusively by anti-authoritarians? Could a bank robber not be a leftist or member of the right-wing?
Samios: I don’t think to…. I don’t think I can come to such a conclusion.
Papadakis: So what you mean by ”robbers with an identity” is basically anti-authoritarians.
Samios: No, I do not mean that.
Papadakis deconstructed the opinion of the witness on the high educational level of the robbers when he asked him how he was able to judge that, after having exchanged just a few phrases with each other. Is the phrase ”robbery, people!” indicative that someone has a degree? The witness acknowledged that his thought was extreme. To questions posed by Mr. Papadakis on whether the witness saw something more outside the bank the answer was nothing, in accordance with the witness’ first testimony. On the day of the robbery he was summoned by the police to testify and the officers showed him the objects found in the crime scene, which did not include a hat or a cellphone.
Papadakis: When you saw him in the following days after his arrest and his photos were all over on TV, did you recognize him as one of the robbers?
Next, counsel Mrs. Paparrousou focused on the fact that it was the bank teller who intervened and said “don’t take this money it belongs to the customer.”
Paparrousou: It became obvious during the court process, when Mrs. Peppa testified- that it was she who actually said “leave it, this is the customer’s money” and they left the money. Is Mrs. Peppa -how you said it- “an outcast against society’? Why else should she care whether the customer’s money is taken, she is only a bank teller, right?
Samios: She said “this is the customer’s money” – they confirmed it, I told them “yes” and they did not take it. That is what happened.
Paparrousou: Does Mrs Peppa participate in the anti-authoritarian milieu? Are you aware of such activity- in order for her to use that sentence?
Samios: No, what are you saying now? (laughing) For God’s sake.
Paparrousou: This phrase has been redefined by you as belonging to and coming from a very particular political milieu but when one puts these facts in an order then one sees that you had just been very lucky to have your money left there.
Samios: Thank the lord!
Phytrakis: Would you connect the defendant with everything that happened that day?
Samios: I cannot connect anything, the court will decide that. Now in my opinion, you asked me, they asked me… I do not know this kid. I cannot say anything more than that.
Next were examined two more witnesses who own a bakery near the bank.
Margaritis Stamatios reported everything he witnessed: the robbers wore masks and an employee at a nearby kiosk shouted “chase them, their guns are fake,” which could possibly explain why Michas went after them and attacked one of them. After being asked about the hat, if he saw it falling on the ground or lying around the scene, his answer was “no.” He mentioned that it took the police 15 minutes to get there despite the proximity of the police department to the bank. When answered questions regarding the defendant, he said that nobody on Paros could say it was him, that nobody recognized him after seeing his photograph on TV.
Papadakis: You were one of the very first witnesses called to testify. Were you shown a hat?
Next on the stand was Margaritis Iioannis.
In his deposition Margaritis Ioannis describes that he came out of the bakery when he heard a woman screaming “They killed a man.” He saw the victim lying down on the ground while one of the robbers was shooting from distance of about 4 metres. He heard the gunshots before, but does not remember whether the robber was wearing a scarf or a hat. The presiding judge showed the witness various photographs depicting the robbers, in order for him to recognize the shooter. He pointed at the one who was wearing a beige long-sleeved top and very characteristically said “I don’t think he was wearing a short sleeved top.” Then, the prosecution, through a series of questions, attempted to make the witness admit that the shooter was in fact wearing a short-sleeved khaki top, using the excuse that the witness was not wearing his glasses when he pointed at the photograph shown by the judge. “Khaki,” said the prosecutor, “is similar to beige anyway!” So, while the witness had already pointed out the robber wearing the beige top, he then changed his mind and recognized the one wearing khaki as the shooter.
Papadakis: As part of your initial testimony, you said you do not know who shot the victim first. What distance did the one you identity as the shooter fired the gun, regardless of what he was wearing?
Margaritis Ioannis: 3-4 metres.
Papadakis: That’s what you said then, but are you aware of what ballistics concluded?
Margaritis Ioannis: No, but I heard one was from point-blank range.
Papadakis: Three bullets were fired at point blank range and one from a 10 cm range. None of the bullets was fired from a three-four metre range and there were no bullets on the ground that had missed the target.
Moving on, counsel Papadakis asked whether the witness was sure about the robber he recognized as the shooter. The witness admitted he was unsure. In the end, the witness became particularly provocative and hostile, when Mrs. Paparrousou posed questions about seeing the hat. He testified that he did not see a hat anywhere on the ground. The hearing ended earlier than expected since many witnesses were not present. The judge ordered they be brought to court by force on February 14th, which is the date the court will resume again for the appeals trial, room 120 D, 6th floor, 9am.