Tuesday, November 21, 2006
You have the right to be beaten, if you give up that right, we will do it anyway.
Thankfully, there is uproar in the Greek press (see here in English here, and here in Greek) over the beating of a Cypriot student outside the ABC hotel here in Thessaloniki. Not only was this caused by the incident itself, which was captured by TV cameras but also by the extremely provocative statements made by the head of the city's police department when interviewed about the event on Mega channel. Rather than ordering an inquiry or condemning the acts of the police officers, he insulted and even threatened the law professor, Vasilis Floridis, who'd witnessed it, even going as far as to defend the police's actions, arguing that the beating of a detainee was in no way excessive.
The official police report says that the students injuries were sustained when he fell over a moped and into a window box. However, according to an interview he gave to the Eleutheroptypia newspaper says that;
"«Ενας με πίεζε να μου σπάσει το γόνατο. Μου έβαλαν χειροπέδες ύστερα από 20 λεπτά. Με χτυπούσαν μπροστά στους καθηγητές. Με κλοτσούσαν και μέσα στο τμήμα. Τα μάτια μου ήταν πρησμένα και δεν έβλεπα τίποτα. Φοβόμουν ότι είχα εσωτερική αιμορραγία, ότι θα πέθαινα. Τέσσερις ώρες ήμουν μέσα στα αίματα».
Ο Αυγουστίνος εξιστορεί αυτά που έζησε και εξηγεί πως κατάφερε να ενημερώσει την οικογένειά του. «Χωρίς να βλέπω κατάφερα να τους στείλω μήνυμα με το κινητό που είχα κρυμμένο μέσα στα εσώρουχά μου. Δεν περιγράφεται αυτό που έζησα».
"One of them forced me to bend my knee and they put handcuffs on me 20 minutes later. They hit me in front of the professors. They kicked when I was in the police station. My eyes were swollen and I couldn't see anything. I was afraid that I had internal bleeding. I was left covered in blood for four hours."
Augustinos described what he had been through and explained how he had managed to contact his family.
"Without being able to see I managed to send them a message with the mobile phone which I had hidden in my underwear. What I went through cannot be described."
It seems that they the police in this city feel that they are not just above the law but subject to no civilian control at all. How else would you explain the seeming lack of concern by the force's highest ranks when making these outrageous claims publicly, even when the evidence is there for the whole country to see with their own eyes.
By a sad irony a similar incident took place inside the UCLA library with an American- Iranian student being repeatedly tazored (see here).