Omnia TV’s Sylvia and Giant report from the courtroom
On February 17th, the 7th hearing of the appeals trial of Tasos Theofilou took place at the Appellate Court of Athens, Greece. The process began with the display of footage that was recorded by security cameras inside and outside the bank on the day of the robbery. The footage, in line with other evidence, confirms that Theofilou cannot be identified as one of the perpetrators. Based on footage content, certain aspects of paramount importance in the judicial process, were identified and addressed.
Firstly, the infamous hat, worn by one of the robbers, looks more solid, significantly larger and made of a harder material, compared to the hat brought as evidence at court, which has a loose-weave. Moreover, there is noticeable a black spot on the hat- the way it’s seen on camera- which is missing from the hat presented as evidence. Just to remind that the police claim that this hat was found at the point of struggle and that genetic material matching to Theofilou’s DNA was extracted from it.
Secondly, the body type of the robber wearing the cowboy hat (the one the prosecution claims was Theofilou) is clearly different to the body type of the defendant: the robber is more sturdy with broad shoulders. The nose of the perpetrator is more round while Theofilou’s is crooked. A difference in the chin was also noticed.
Thirdly, the robbers moved constantly inside the bank, while the one wearing the cowboy hat, who was not wearing gloves, moved a chair with his left hand. He was wearing a short-sleeved top and came in contact with the employees’ desks multiple times. Without any shadow of a doubt, the robbers must have left genetic material behind, even fingerprints. Despite that, the bank was NEVER sealed off (like ordinary crime scenes are) by the police in order to proceed to a collection and analysis of DNA and finger prints. Instead, the bank was turned into a temporary police department where officers recorded testimonies about the case.
The video from the external camera shows the robbers coming out of the bank and walking away. Two of the perpetrators, one of which was the one wearing the cowboy hat, came out first and the third, who according to witnesses was the one who was attacked by the victim, followed them later. The moment of the struggle among Michas (victim) and the robber was not recorded clearly since part of the screen was blocked by a caption strip that specifies where the recorded content is stored (c:\programdata\ etc). In a nutshell what we saw was someone’s legs, but the robber with the cowboy hat and the beige trousers was not seen.
As Mr. Papadakis said very emphatically, it is incomprehensible for the counsels of the civil action not to have exerted every possible effort and not to have used all possible means in order to see whether this black caption strip could be removed from the video, in order to take a better look on the crime scene, as if the civil action is not truly committed in finding the perpetrator but is merely interested to make sure that someone, anyone, would be convicted for these crimes, without any regard for the innocence of the accused.
Despite the fact that the video shows someone’s legs from a distance, paradoxically and metaphysically, the presiding judge of the first instance trial had clarified, that he clearly saw the robber with the cowboy hat and was able to distinguish his naked arm on camera. These clarifications seemed to have made an impression on the current presiding judge as well. Mr. Papadakis derived the very logical conclusion that the presiding judge of the first instance trial used his imagination to complete the missing scenes.
Next, the defendant’s attorneys requested from the judges to refrain from reading the depositions of two witnesses since this would compromise the integrity of the trial and the right of the accused to defense. The lawyers cited article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights for a fair trial, which safeguards the ability of the accused to exercise his right to defense in full spectrum, essentially meaning to be able to pose questions to witnesses directly. When the depositions are read in absence of the witnesses, the accused is deprived of this right leading to the court’s disregard for the Convention. Despite this, the request of the defense was not granted.
The first witness, Mr. Karassante was temporarily employed by the National bank and could not be located due to a change of address. His testimonies did not provide the court with any useful information. His account was mainly comprised of a description of everything he witnessed happening outside the bank when the robbers were about to flee the scene, while he did not specify who was the shooter and at what direction the shots were fired.
The second witness, Mr. Gavrakis, was serving in the counter-terrorism unit and is currently abroad since he is now employed by the Interpol. His testimonies are characterised by contradictions regarding the person who received the notorious phone-call which pointed Theofilou as guilty for the robbery. The informant had provided extremely detailed information for the defendant, raising serious questions as to whether this phone-call was actually made. At times the officer admitted that he was the one who had answered the phone-call and others he contradicted himself with statements about the call being made at the service’s call-centre. The defense is mainly concerned with the reasons this witness was called to testify, since he had absolutely no contact with Theofilou.
The defense requested that the court issue an order to declassify the supposed phone-call received by the counter-terrorism department, along with the official documents and notes in relation to the phone-call. The requests were not granted by the judge.
The hearing continued with the reading of documents contained in the case file, starting with the photographs of the crime scene and the evidence. While the documents falsely claim that all the objects collected from the crime scene were photographed, the hat, which was photographed for the first time in an office in Athens, was not one of them. The forensics team did not photograph nor present this significant piece of evidence to the witnesses in order to establish whether anyone, especially bank employees who had direct contact with the robbers, would recognize it. While every object in the crime scene, such as shells, shattered glass, even cigarette butts on the ground were photographed, the main incriminating evidence which caused Theofilou’s conviction at the first instance trial was not seen in any of those photographs.
A very notable failure of the police investigation is that a mobile phone collected from the crime scene was NEVER investigated in connection with the crime.
According to official documents, the DNA extracted from the body which exhibited signs of struggle, was not a match to the DNA of the defendant. Moreover, Theofilou did not have any bruises or other signs of struggle on his body, at the time of his arrest.
The hearing went on with the reading of various articles which appeared in the Greek press and were considered important for the case by the prosecutor. It is important to note that the articles mainly come from tabloids, bear sonorous titles and imaginary stories and lead to misinformation, a common tactic of the Greek press when they intend to affect the outcome of a trial. This is proved by the fact that the prosecutor declined to include articles that shed a different light on the case and provided other perspectives on the identity of the perpetrators in an effort to paint Theofilou as guilty and manipulate public opinion about his personality.
The defense explained, that (low-life) journalists who wrote lengthy articles on ”secret hiding locations” and other imaginary stories and ”ruled” that Theofilou was a member of the anarcho-nihilist organization C.C.F., were never bothered to retract those statements, issue an apology, or generally mention that Theofilou was acquitted from those charges.
The judge tried to go through the list of objects collected from Theofilou’s home very quickly, since there were numerous objects, from bed sheets, to socks and books, when the prosecutor intervened and asked the presiding judge to pay attention to a book titled ”Trouble is my business” which caused a strong reaction from Theofilou’s lawyers as well as the audience. Mrs Paparrousou, Theofilou’s lawyer, said emphatically: ”the content of books has not been considered relevant in a trial since the fall of the dictatorship in this country”.
The tactics deployed by the prosecutor take us back in time to another era where books and ideas were criminalized. From the tens of books owned by Tasos Theofilou, the prosecutor focused on one title, which is also a very misleading one, since it refers to a novel written by a right-wing conservative, according to Theofilou’s clarifications during the hearing.
The trial resumed on Monday, 20th of February.