4 of the Nikea marchers released as pressure mounts against the hood-law

snap from the Nikea clashes, arrow pointing at reversed glob held by riot cop

Five of the eight marchers of Nikea, arrested last Saturday during an anti-torture demo, have been released after court hearing. Meanwhile pressure against the hood-law used against 4 of the 8 for the first time in Greece is mounting with occupations and solidarity.

Five of the Nikea Eight, the anti-torture marchers who were arrested in the industrial suburb of Athens last Saturday, were released on Tuesday 20/10 after a court hearing. Two of the released protesters over the torture and death of Mohammed Karman Atif, a Pakistani immigrant held at the police station of Nikea, are being charged with criminal offenses, the other two with non-criminal offenses, while one has serious wounds on his head which against police claims of self-inflicted injuries forensic doctors testified it is from use of police globs. Three out of the five released protesters have been denied the right to exit the country till their trial. The remaining three marchers, all charged with criminal offenses, will be seeing the court on Thursday.

The pre-trial procedures of the Nikea Eight have a unique historical importance for the movement and society as a whole in Greece. It is the first time that the so-called "hood-law" [koukoulonomos] is being applied. Considered by many to be a total breach of the bourgeois Constitution of the country, the "hood-law" was introduced by the last, right-wing, government in response to the December 2008 Uprising in Greece. It renders any breach of the law a criminal offence if this is conducted "wearing a hood or otherwise hiding one's facial characteristics". This practically means that if you get caught, for example, singing aloud on the street after midnight, and the police can convince the court you were wearing a hood at the time, you could get 10 years of jail. Proposals of the government that these years should not be paroleable did not go through the parliament's approval last spring. The anti-hood law was at the time of its legislation ridiculed by the now governing Socialist Party. A striking example of this attitude is the following statement, made by the now Minister of Public Order, Mr Chrisochoidis, on the 22 of March 2009: "...Those regulations are laughable in themselves. Besides the fact that they are legally groundless, they shall be immediately practically nullified because they go against common sense. What worries me and should worry all progressive citizens is the deep conservative and anachronistic turn attempted via such measures by the government. It is obvious that its audience in this case are the votes of LAOS (the fascist party)".

The court on Tuesday dropped hood-charges from all defendants not charged with criminal offences, thus practically refusing to apply the hood-law for what it has been designed. It nevertheless kept hood-charges for the two people released under criminal offense charges. Initially the law suggested that people charged under the hood-law could not be released before their trial.

The release of the marchers comes within a climate of mounting social pressure regarding the scrapping of the hood-law by the new government, the re-examination of Atif's death, and the release of the Nikea 8.

After the successful end of the occupation of the Nikea city hall earlier this week, which received a wide support from the totality of Nikean society and workers in particular, more occupations of public buildings have followed both in Athens and the provinces. On Monday 19/10 the University of Athens Rectors Headquarters, the historical building in Propilea, was occupied by people protesting against the arrests of the eight and the application of the hood-law. The building remains occupied since. At the same time in the city of Chania, Crete, protesters have occupied the Province's administrative headquarters, claiming in a communique: "Whoever might be managing power, the only thing in mind is to "manage" social rage and to repress any voice of resistance against their plans. The proof of that is that the torturer-assassins are roaming free, continuing their work, as sleepless "protectors of citizens", while those who resist are treated with the legal armory of the state". In Thessaloniki, protesters in solidarity to the Nikea Eight have occupied the School of Theater Studies in one of the most central spot of the city.

The case of Atif and the plight of the Nikea 8 has received the support and solidarity of a wide range of political forces on the left. The Radical Left Coalition has brought the issue to Parliament demanding a re-opening of Atif's case and the scrapping of the hood-law which it called "freedom-killing". In response the Minister of Public Order has sent Atif's file to the head state persecutor. At the same time, a second forensic examination of Atif's body, ordered by the Pakistani Community in defiance to the first forensic results that claimed the death to be "pathological", has revealed serious lesions resulting from torture that could have led to his death.

The Minister of Public Order also held a hearing of left-wing groups demanding the end of the parastate rule of Agios Panteleimonas, and the release of the Nikea Eight. Mr Chrisochoidis said that he was "terrified by the phenomenon which was allowed to develop by the state" acknowledging that he has "seen police and fascist groups working together". Earlier he had announced that any policeman found to be cooperating with fascist groups would be immediately fired from service, suggesting that the High Court should make the neo-nazi group Golden Dawn illegal. The left-wing groups have demanded the removal of the police chief of the area, and the re-opening of the secret services abduction of Pakistani leaders case.

More pressure on the government on labour and immigrant issues, as well as on the release of the Nikea Eight and the hood-law was exercised today when the Athens Cleaners Union (PEKOP) which has since the sulfuric acid attack against its secretary K. Kouneva last year become a public symbol of resistance and proletarian resolve, met with the Minister of Justice and Human Rights. PEKOP underlined its comminique on the meeting by its demand to release the Nikea Eight and scrap the hood-law.

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Oct 21 2009 08:01


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Oct 22 2009 11:51

Final Update: On Thursday 22/10 all remaining marchers of the Nikea 8 were released after court hearings did not judge their pre-trial imprisonment necessary. The releases came in a climate of rising social pressure: the same day four university student union passed a resolution demanding the release of the remaining 3 marchers. The occupations of public buildings across greece in response to the arrests last Saturday are expected to dissolve after the positive court outcome.