Two police officers and three police guards of the Acropolis police station have been arrested in relation to the torture of an man treated for his wounds in hospital.
5 policemen, two officers and two “special guards” have been arrested after they tortured a 30 year old man from Chile when he demanded access to a telephone in order to contact his lawyer. The arrested policemen claim the detained man tried to escape and the wounds inflected on his torso and legs for which he is being now treated in hospital are the result of their efforts to contain him. The tortured man has been visited in hopsital by the Secretary of the Ministry of Public Order and the Chief of Police in an unprecedented move of human rights concern by the notorious sector of the government. Moreover the Minister of Public Order has condemned the torture adding that he is “sending a clear message to all uniformed worker […] the abuse of power, torture and humiliation of human dignity is a sign of barbarity” claiming that policemen with no concern for the constitution will be expelled from the force and “puished paradigmatically”. The move to arrest the policemen is unprecedented in a country where torture against immigrants is endemic and no cop has ever been subject of disciplinary measures let alone legal persecution for it.
In effect the arrest of the 5 policemen and the rise of the torture case to a prime article of the headlines marks an interesting twist in the policy of the Socialist government whose pledge to erradicate police arbitrariness and brutality has up to now been no more than hot air. Such policy could be both a move of reclaiming the police force within social-democratic normality (a repetition of the 1981-83 ‘de-juntaization’ of the police) by purging extreme-right individuals, and a powerful propaganda weapon with respect to the vast majority of the people who distrust and loath the police and to the left which has been demanding an immediate cleanising if not disarming of the force since the Decmeber Uprising. The anti-cop sentiment is a central unifying principle between diverse sections of social discontent (from workers to pupils and from farmers to immigrants) in the country and is seen by the government as a great obstacle to achieving social concensus or so-called ‘national unity’ in view of the sweeping and most probably anti-popular reforms planned for the economic recovery of the state finances in the months ahead.