Tension before start of Alexandros Grigoropoulos' assassins trial

Tension is high across Greece, in the days before the start of Alexandros Grigoropoulos assassins murders. Besides the intensifying winter urban guerrilla offensive in Athens, farmers are gradually blocking the entire national highway network, while the assassinated boy's mother accuses the judicial authorities of both turning a blind eye both clues regarding the murder and inhibiting the proper course of the trial by transferring it in a remote mountain town.

The authorities had hoped that the postponing of Alexandros Grigoropoulos assassins' trial would reduce the tension surrounding it. Initially the trial was to be held in Athens and on the 15th of December 2009. However the authorities -claiming fear of more civil unrest- have decided to move the trial to Amfissa, a remote mountain town, for January 20th 2010. This has caused the outrage of the killed boys' mother who applied twice against the move of the trial outside Athens and was rebuked twice by the judicial authorities. In a last move of contempt towards the state's maneuvers, the mother has published an open letter to the judges, which, besides pointing out that the accused are "subjects of privileged treatment", notes that:

"a) the persecution describes the malice of the accused as "possible" although it was immediate first order malice, as a result the judges' decision is preempted

b) both the interrogation and the judicial order does not take into account the possibility of the intended malicious murder of yet another person, the pupil N.P. who has declared that Ep. Korkoneas [Alexandros' murderer] "shot against him". Lets not forget that there were two shots

c) The second bullet was never sought at all by the authorities

d) The trial has been moved to Amfissa, without waiting the decision of the European Court of Human Rights to which I have taken recourse. The choice of Amfissa creates huge questions since:

e) substantial witnesses have not been called by the persecuting authority

f) the police-conduct files of the accused [policemen] has not been sought, so as to see if there are disciplinary rulings against them in the past, and to evaluate their personality".

In the countdown to the trial, the authorities, obviously embarrassed by the revelations of the mother, have been plagued by a climate of rising tension that hardly resembles their desired state of "silence, order, and security".

Farmers mobilisation has been intensifying by the day, with defense lawyers of the Grigoropoulos family, pointing out that it is doubtful that road access to Amfissa would be even open at the time of the trial. The farmers (who come under different unions) have already set up 7 blockades on the national highway system hampering cross-country traffic, in some places to a complete standstill. And this is only the start, a warning move in anticipation of the real thing starting on Monday when tractors are expected to be brought out in a massive "dynamic mobilisation".

In Athens itself labour issues are not calm either. After a month of strike the workers of Elite, the country's second biggest shoe producing industry have stepped up their struggle by occupying the company's main factory in Athens. The workers are demanding immediate payment of salaries since November and transparency over the fate of the company (which despite rising profits is threatening them with closure, in order to move the capital towards its retail branch). The workers who marched at the midst of last week from their factory to the Ministry of Labour are demonstrating an impressive organisational and struggle cohesion which has won the solidarity of locals. The closure of the factory would jeopardise the employment of 2,000 more workers in enterprises dependent on the industry. Mr Lomberdos, the Minister of Labour, has ominously declared that he expects overall unemployment in the country to rise from 450,000 to 1,000,000 people within 2010 - a 20% of the working force (not including in the stats as unemployed the students and men performing their military service).

Finally, the intensification of what looks like a winter offensive by the urban guerrillas in Athens is yet another headache for the authorities. On Friday night, just before the clock stroke midnight, a medium-force bomb blew the ground floor of the Ministry of Press (aka General Secretariat of Information in socialist newspeak). The bomb which did not cause any human injuries due to its being pre-announced to the press, destroyed large part of the premises as well as several parked cars and two fast-food shops which had been also evacuated. At the time of writing no communique has been published claiming responsibility for the attack that comes less than a week after the bomb in the greek parliament's front yard.


Jan 17 2010 08:02

Once again, an interesting report; maybe when you have time, you could respond a bit to the thread I launched in the News forum - http://libcom.org/forums/news/greece-reflections-some-contradictions-movement-there-10012010

I have a couple of questions about this report, and about your report the other day: how involved are the unions in the Elite factory occupation, if at all? Is there a specific organisation that is co-ordinating the farmers struggle or what? Is the struggle only about the failure to clear the landslide till April or about other things as well? What's happening to the prisoners hunger strike? Was the "ministerial secretary" you mentioned as being hospitalised as a result of the attack on the Ministry of Justice a PA (personal assistant ) or someone lower down in the hierarchy?

I ask you these things partly because I want to write something in French again about the situation in Greece, because there's so little information here (if you know of a source of info in French that I might not be aware of, I'd be grateful if you'd tell me). I would hope you don't dismiss me this time as just wanting "a reading group" or that you feel it's beneath your dignity to respond to someone who has criticised you publicly, despite repeatedly expressing appreciation of your reports. But perhaps I'm anticipating too much.

Jan 17 2010 15:05

Thanks for the questions Samotnaf - your work in French sounds very interesting. I dont have time at the moment to read the report you mention but will do it and be back with some feedback. Forgive my earlier attitude, things are very stressed here and keeping this updates consistent is on the verge of the practically impossible given the demands on the street...

As about your short questions, the Elite factory mobilisation seems to be largely autonomous. I say seem because I have not been there to be certain, but there is no obvious direction by any party-controlled union in their communiques or actions etc. Now the farmers are a different question.

Different areas are controlled by different unions (mostly communist and socialist, fewer -mostly in Thessaly- right wing. Now the Tembi landslide is the cause of mobilisation only locally, with the rest of the mobilisations being related to farming and funding issues. The latest update is that the Egnatia street (international highway from Turkey to Albania) remains closed at two points, the south -north highway between Salonica and Athens is closed at two points, while many more local network junctions are closed mostly in the greek province of macedonia. The mobilisation is expected to climax between Monday and Thursday with an actual total standstill of all main traffic north of Athens. The government has been taking a compromise road with various ministers visiting the road blocks promising favorable solution of the conflict to the farmers.

The hunger strike in Grevena continues with more than 400 prisoners in it at the moment of writing.

The injured man from the attack on the political office of Mr Katsifaras was his general secretary (I am not sure how to translate this otherwise in english), a very high official position. According to the news he was injured when he tried to lock the attackers in the building. The man has recovered and dehospitalised.

Still no guerrilla group has claimed responsibility for the Ministry of Press bombing, pictures released in the media show the building absolutely smashed by the explosion. The bomb has caused a huge fight between the current and previous government, whose criticisms have been decried by the Minister of Public Order (Civil Protection in socialist newspeak) as extreme-right and impotent.

Jan 17 2010 18:28

Thanks a lot for that; don't know when I'll do this thing in French, it depends on so much.

By the way, I wrote a short 4-page text in French at the beginning of April last year, much of it taken from your reports. It covered the 3 months after December. There was so little information in French so I hoped putting it out on the internet would help redress that. I only made about 50 hard copies, though. Henri Simon's Echanges et Mouvement reprinted most of it, which I found out by chance. I would send you an electronic English language version ( though it's nothing new for English language speakers), but for the moment I can't find it: just hope i haven't somehow binned it.

Jan 18 2010 11:27

thanks again for the update - if there is anything we can do to help please let us know.

Jan 18 2010 16:18

Thanks Steven. Today comrades from Lamia ventured to the town of Amfissa for a first round of counterinformation on the trial. Their report notes that the little town is in the verge of panic with shops and banks barricading themselves against expected riots. However, upon hearing that anarchists were in town crowds of people came to meet them. The comrades report that the feedback was very positive and that the locals, despite being physically isolated, are not buying the media propaganda at all. The comrades were invited again and again for free drinks at the towns coffee-shops and left undisturbed by the visibly disturbed police forces that are pouring in in expectation of the trial. Protest marches have been called at Amfissa and other greek cities for the 20th of January, the start-date of the trial.