This must have been on of Greece’s most terrible cases of bullying: a student fell victim of the continuous use of violence and intimidation by his fellow students. Beginning of February, Vaggelis Giakoymakis, 20, went missing, from the dormitory of Dairy School where he was studying in Ioannina, Northern Greece.
Police investigation revealed a shocking reality: that the shy young man was often exposed to the verbal harassment and threats and to severe physical and psychological abuse by a group of his fellow students.
In several actions, police and hundreds of volunteers engaged into search for him both in Ioannina and in Athens, but also other Greek cities. Without success.
On Sunday, Vaggelis Giakoumakis’ decomposed boy was found by a couple walking at the area of the Pamvotida Lake, some 800 meters away from his school.
Greek media reported that left-handed Vaggelis had an injury at his right hand and that a knife was found nearby.
A post-mortem examination and laboratory analysis are to give an answer whether it was a murder or suicide.
Victim of school bullying
The tragic case that has been shaking Greece for weeks, after his mother informed police that her son has been missing. Giakoumakis was from Rethymnon, Crete.
He had left the dormitory of the school on February 6th, leaving behind his mobile phone and his wallet.
Police and student volunteers scoured the area around the school on foot, boat patrols and divers searched the lake. No result.
Silver Alert missing announcement
Police and media investigation revealed that Vaggelis Giakoumakis was victim of a malicious bullying campaign by a group of at least four fellow students also from Crete.
The bullying had reportedly started last year and it was constant. according to media, Giakoumakis was locked in a cupboard, he was forced to sing like a ;jukebox’, he was harassed in the showers, pushed down the stairs, he was almost suffocated with a belt.
Last spring, a teacher had reportedly denounce the bullying case to the Dairy School authorities, but apparently no serious investigation took place, nor there was a punishment to the perpetrators.
Vaggelis started to be depressed, but he downplayed the intimidation he was constantly exposed to to his mother.
Investigation and responsibilities
After he went missing, a three-member-committee of the Greek Agricultural Organization conducted investigation and found evident of extensive use of force. The Dairy School director was removed, a prosecutor is to investigate criminal responsibilities on the side of the Dairy School.
While the coroner’s report on the causes of Giakoumakis death is been awaited, Greek media report that even in case of a suicide, there will be an criminal investigation against the group of the students who had targeted the young man. Although at the moment, it is controversial on legal terms.
The bullying against Vaggelis continued also after his confirmed death. One or more perpetrators uploaded despicable posts on the internet. After several complaints, the Electornic Crime Division of the Greek police has reportedly located the haters.
A private investigator hired by Giakoumakis family told media Monday noon, that “signs speak of suicide”.
Now there is a lot of discussion about bullying, the Ministry of Education announced measures and campaign against such incidents in schools. The prosecutor had announced to start investigation from “zero basis”.
All of these, will not bring the young man back to life. But maybe his soul will find justice.
According to Coroner’s report it was a suicide and that Giakoumakis died of bleeding due to the injury he caused to himself in the hand. He died on the first day of his disappearance.
Media and the society are in sheer outrage demanding justice for Vaggelis Giakoumakis.
There are many questions referring:
a) to police investigation, for “apparently searching the area around the school but failed to find the body”, still 37 days after the student’s disappearance.
b) to the school director and the teaching personnel for having done very little or nothing to stop the bullying.
c) to the identity of Giakoumakis’ bullies and their punishment. While there is apparently no legal frame to punish them for his death, a legal expert said that they can be charged for “indirect incitement to suicide” which is a misdemeanor.
d) to the role of some unionists form the education sector who allegedly attempted to hinder police investigation.
The anger is huge.
“Even if there is not punishment, one has to name and shame these bullies so that they will not dare to get out of their homes,” Yiannis Pretenderis, a veteran Greek commentator said during the Prime Time News of private Mega TV on Monday evening.
What a tragedy!! It falls beyond my ability to comprehend human behaviour. I feel deeply saddened and paralyzed by the lack of society’s moral standards and conduct. What has happened to the empathy and Compassion towards our fellow man? Has it completely been removed from the human race?
These cowards who were bullying this beautiful young man should be held accountable for their actions and punished harshly. My heart and prayers goes out to the family and friends of this young man
As Pantelis Boukalas said in today’s Kathimerini “In cases of systematic bullying suicide is murder.” I completely agree and our laws need to change to reflect this. There needs to be a heavier and more serious legal charge, more than a misdemeanor, for the merciless and cruel predators that torment others especially when it leads to death.