Families & lawyers accuse Greek police of torturing arrested bank robbers, suspected of terrorism

Posted by in Politics

Parents and lawyers of two young men arrested on Friday accused Greek police for torturing them during interrogation. The accusations came after police published pictures showing marks of violence on the faces of the arrested and after a police statement saying, the arrested were beaten while a scuffle with police during their arrest.

“There was not scuffle, what police says it’s lie. They took him to security, locked him in a room, his hands in handcuffs on his back, they got him on his knees, put a hood on his head and they beat-ed him for hours. Not for interrogation, but for torture,” the father of Dimitris Bouroukos told news website zougla.gr after a short meeting with his son. 

“I spoke with the mother of another one and she told me the shoulder of her son was dislocated,” the father said and demanded forensic examination of his son.

 On Friday, Greek police arrested on Friday four men, aged 20-25 years old, involved in two bank robberies in Velvento, Kozani, in Northern Greece. According to authorities, an arrested warrant against two of them was issued earlier by the police for suspected involvement in the terrorist group “Conspiracy of the cells of fire.”

On Saturday, police published the pictures of the four suspects. Faces marked by signs of mistreatment with bruises and swollen eyes. And a very bad and clumsy photoshop.

arrests kozani

 Initially it wasn’t clear whether the beating was the result of a scuffle during their arrest or during interrogation. After more and more Greek websites and blogs started to demand explanations for the beating and the photoshop and to criticize the police for ‘torturing’ suspects of a crime, a police statement on Sunday said:

“Te arrested were beaten during the dynamic police operation against the van they were in after the robbery and because they resisted.” (newsit.gr)

As for the case with the photoshop on the neck of the one of the arrested, “according to police information, the photoshop took part because the arrested refused to raise his head for the picture. The purpose of photoshop was to ‘remove’ the hand of police officer from the picture. At the same time, one of the arrested threatened the policemen with a Beretta gun, during the operation.” (zougla.gr)

It looks as if they were beaten in Kozani, as they were transported to Athens on Sunday morning and the pictures were released on Saturday.

While the Greek mainstream media remained silent on the mistreatment and the photoshop issue, news portal zougla.gr spoke of “Lifting” for the state violence”.

A statement from the party Ecologists-Green condemned “violence from wherever it comes” and underling that “violence brings violence” the  Green party criticized the beating saying: “The publishing of the pictures should be accompanied with an investigation whether violence was used and whether this went beyond the limits. Because apart from the citizens’ protection, the rules of democracy must be protected as well.». (source)

Main opposition left-wing SYRIZA demanded an internal police investigation saying that no matter how heavy a criminal act or the interrogation target they cannot justify torture of arrested.” (in.gr)

Raising money for terrorist activity via bank robberies?

The four men, aged between 20 and 25, were arrested following two almost simultaneously carried out robberies on branches of ATEbank and the Hellenic Postbank in Velvento, near Kozani, on Friday morning.

“Between eight and 10 people were involved in the two robberies, according to witnesses who said they saw masked assailants using sledgehammers to smash through the glass fronts of the banks before threatening staff with heavy weapons, believed to be Kalashnikov assault rifles. The perpetrators netted more than 200,000 euros in the raids.”

Ballistic examination of the weapons, three Kalashnikov and three pistols, showed that they were never used before, neither on a terrorist nor on a criminal activity.

According to media reports citing police sources, one of the arrested was a friend of Alexis Grigoropoulos and thus present when the teenager boy was killed by a police officer in 2008 in Athens district Exarchia. Another arrested is allegedly the ‘archer’ of Syntagma, a man who had appeared with bow and arrow targeting the parliament during anti-austerity protests last year.

The four are to be charged with establishment of a criminal gang, robbery, abduction, illegal carrying of weapons, causing physical harm, aggravated carrying of weapons, aggravated damage, use of fake identification cards, resistance to police, disruption of traffic safety.

the two with the older arrest warrant were brought before the prosecutor on Sunday afternoon. The other two are still in police headquarters.

Police investigates possible connections of the arrested four in the case of Athens Mall bomb and the attack against Nea Dimocratia headquarters, both last month, while police units have been deployed in Kozani area to seek more accomplices of the four. (sources: ethnos.gr, zougla.gr, protothema, ekathimerini, to vima)

Considering the age of the arrested, the most striking question is: what makes a twenty-year old to take up the arms and become a bank robber and a terrorist? Where do they get their training and by whom do they receive instructions? Who breeds the ‘young generation’ of terrorists?