Friday, December 11, 2009
Greek police caught on camera framing innocent by-stander last Sunday
The police chase and apprehand a mask wearing man who is in possession of a bag full of petrol bombs ready to used against shops or fellow officers. Quickly he is subdued, detained and arrested, Mission accomplished. Job well done. Well, not quite. Fortunately for the 23 year old student involved this particular arrest was captured on video by a passer - by and photographed by Associated Press photographer Nikos Giakoumidis last Sunday.
It now turns out that the person arrested was a resident of the area who had decided to take out his rubbish as the march in memory of Greek teen killed by a police bullet last year was in progress. When he saw half a dozen Delta motorcycle cops racing towards him he panicked and ran only to be quickly overtaken and captured.
The video then shows the officers hitting the man, fetching a gas mask and others bringing up a bag full of Molotov cocktails which would later be used as incriminating evidence against him when he was charged. The fact that the person was wearing pyjamas seems to have escaped the notice of the half a dozen motorcycle riding Delta group policemen present at the scene.
In the video which was posted on the Zougla.gr site another witness who gives his full name also says that his wife's mobile phone was smashed by officers in an effort to make sure no visual record of their actions would exist.
Today the Greek police made an official apology to the student and said that they would be carrying out an internal investigation.
But if this event had not been videoed there is a very good chance that the student would be behind bars at the moment and would be facing anything up to 12 months in prison awaiting trial. If he had been found guilty, and with such evidence against him that would have been a real possibility he could have faced over 15 years behind bars according to his lawyer Athanasios Tartis. All for no reason at all. You have to wonder what kind of twisted individuals would do such a thing and if this is their first attempt.
Despite the police and government's talk of "targetted arrests" during last Sunday's disturbances I saw nothing of the sort. Instead the police blindly corralled protesters and then made up the charges as they went along. I narrowly avoided such treatment myself, as being injured I managed to talk my way out of a group of 200 marchers who'd been herded into a side street and then surrounded. After repeatedly tear gassing us and beating those on the edge of the group, many were detained and some arrested, based on what criteria I do not know since the choice was made on the basis of random chance.