Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2005 - Greece

Attack against Mr. Gregory Vallianatos13

On 11 April 2005, Mr. Gregory Vallianatos, president of the Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM), a free-lance journalist and producer of television programmes on human rights, was attacked in Athens by Mr. Alexis Kougias, a lawyer known for his homophobic views. Mr. Kougias struck Mr. Vallianatos violently on the head and insulted him. Mr. Vallianatos filed a complaint against Mr. Alexis Kougias. By the end of 2005, the proceedings were still pending.

On 12 April 2005, the police arrested Mr. Kougias, who was brought before the Prosecutor and released the next day, pending the results of the criminal investigation. On the same day, the Bar Association of Athens took disciplinary action and suspended Mr. Kougias for six months. He had already been the object of similar disciplinary procedures for, among other things, expressing homophobic views. Mr. Kougias appealed against the decision. By the end of 2005, the case was being examined by the Disciplinary Bureau of the second instance of the Bar Association.

However, Mr. Alexis Kougias repeated his verbal attacks in the media on several occasions.

Slandering statements against several NGOs14

On 19 April 2005, Mr. Nikitas Kaklamanis, Minister of Health, and Mrs. Ionna Despotopoulou, Secretary General of Social Solidarity, publicly accused non-governmental organisations of "existing only on paper" and of "publishing negative reports on the basis of unreliable, exaggerated and misleading information on the victims of the smuggling of human beings in Greece, in order to obtain an increase in funding from the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs". In particular, they explicitly named GHM. These statements, which Mrs. Despotopoulou repeated in July 2005, followed the information transmitted by GHM, on behalf of several Greek NGOs, to the United Nations Human Rights Committee. GHM lodged a complaint against those two official representatives before the Parliament, the only body that is authorised to judge members of the government. By the end of 2005, the case was pending.

Arrest and acquittal of Mr. Loizos Sideris and Mrs. Maria Stamouli15

On 26 April 2005, Mr. Loizos Sideris and Mrs. Maria Stamouli, members of the Committee for Solidarity with Refugees on the island of Chios, located in the north Aegean Sea, attempted to hang a banner in the island's port, which read "Europe Murderous Fortress – security of landowners is hiding at the bottom of the Aegean". They were protesting against the drowning of two foreigners and the disappearance of five others on 25 April 2005, as they were attempting to reach Greece by boat.

On the order of the island's Prosecutor, Mr. Loizos Sideris and Mrs. Maria Stamouli were arrested by the port authorities and appeared before the court the next day. Accused of "inciting the citizens to acts of violence against third parties, inciting animosity and disturbing the peace" (Article 192 of the Criminal Code), they were finally acquitted.

Harassment of Mr. Theo Alexandridis16

On 13 October 2005, Mr. Theo Alexandridis, GHM legal counsel, was held at a police station for four hours after having participated, along with other human rights activists, in various demonstrations against the expulsion of Roma children from their school, subsequent to pressure exerted by certain parents of non-Roma children in the "Psari" neighbourhood in Aspropyrgos, near Athens.

Mr. Alexandridis had gone to the police station to lodge a complaint against the parents, responsible for violent acts during those demonstrations. Once he had filed the complaint, Mr. Alexandridis was not allowed to leave or meet with his colleagues at GHM. He was subsequently told that he was under arrest. Two hours later, he was told that he would not be judged in the framework of read-handed procedure and was released. The president of the Pupils' Parents Association lodged a complaint against Mr. Alexandridis for "libel" and "defamation". As of late 2005, the case was still pending.

Mr. Gjorgi Plukovski denied entry17

On 4 August 2005, Mr. Gjorgi Plukovski, a member of the Macedonian Human Rights Movement International (MHRMI) and of the Association of Refugee Children from Aegean Macedonia (ARCAM), was denied entry upon his arrival at the Greek border. He was given an official document stating that he was considered to be a "threat to public order, to national security, to public health, and to international relations with one or more European Union Member States".

M. Plukovski went to Greece on several occasions, in particular in July 2005, where he had stayed for three weeks.

[Refworld note: This report as posted on the FIDH website (www.fidh.org) was in pdf format with country chapters run together by region. Footnote numbers have been retained here, so do not necessarily begin at 1.]

13. See Closed Letter to the Greek authorities, 26 April 2005.

14. See GHM and the Center for Research and Action for Peace (KEDE – Stop Now) Press Release, 20 April 2005.

15. See GHM.

16. See OMCT Appeal GRC 210105.ESCR.

17. See GHM, September 2005.


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