“With violence as a structural part, the system organises ignorance and fortifies itself against its deniers. Violence is everywhere. It is in the peitharxika (1), in the penalties and in the isolation cells. In the city plan and in the war. In the news and in the commercials. In the murderous police and in the environmental looting. In the video games and in the juvenile correctional institutions.
How much, Mister President, does your democracy say that the life of a robber costs, and how much the life of a cop? How much does the life of a prisoner cost in your modern Greek democracy and how much the life of a prison manager? How much does the life of a reputable judge cost and how much the life of the poor demonised immigrant? Obviously the value of a human life gets a different meaning when the deceased is a defender of the ruling class. But the bullets cost the same."
- Giorgos Voutsis-Vogiatzis
The trial against Giorgos Voutsis-Vogiatzis, concerning a bank robbery in 2006, started Wednesday the 1st of April in the court of Athens. The charges against him were armed robbery and possession of explosives (a hand grenade was found on him during the arrest). About one hundred people gathered outside the building in solidarity though only fifteen of them were allowed inside by the cops, which caused some small disturbances from time to time on the stairs to the entrance. A jury (which in Greece advises the court’s verdict, but is not decisive) that was composed of only employees of the bank that was robbed was presented first, and witnesses heard all the testimony during the first day. The defence witnesses were family members, friends, and comrades. They spoke openly about the economic crisis, the social conditions and working conditions, syndicalism of the base. Many also explained how the State and the banks are stealing from us, in order to justify the robbery.
Giorgos stood by his action, which he called a symbolic attack against the banking system. He said he hadn’t yet thought about what he would do with the money that the money wasn’t the point. The judge tried to force him to reveal who his accomplice was and he refused, saying it was an insult to his integrity. He criticised the reign of drugs and snitch culture in the prisons and said it was a lie to claim they played any rehabilitative role. And he apologised to the bank workers for manifesting authority over them for thirty-five seconds, which he felt bad about even though it was a negation of the authority that rules every moment of our lives. He ended with a quote from Kazantzakis, and when he was finished everyone in the courtroom applauded.
On Thursday the 2nd of April, the sentences were delivered. For the robbery seven years of imprisonment, and one year for possession of explosives, resulting in a total of eight years. Considering the fact that Giorgos had already spent eighteen months in pre-trial detention, and worked inside (one day of work equals two days in prison), a substantial amount of time was deducted from the final sentence. Since prisoners in the Greek system must only serve out 3/5 of their sentence, Giorgos only has to spend another six months in prison. He will be transferred to Korydallos prison in Athens, and freed in September.
During the first day of trial, the nerves and emotions over the prosecution of a comrade were interrupted with joy when it was discovered that two prisoners on trial in the building next door managed to escape. Most of the overwhelming amount of undercover, riot, and prison police were so intensely focused on the growing group of anarchists outside building 13, that two freedom loving birds were able to spread their wings and fly the coop.
(1) A system of judicial punishment for misbehaviour and disobedience committed within the prisons, used to control prisoners throughout the duration of their sentence.