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Victim of bureaucracy: Greek has been trying for 14 years to prove he is not dead

Giannis Dimantis has been living in an incredible bureaucratic adventure. For whole 14 years, he has been trying to prove that he is not dead. In vain. Greek bureaucracy is holding him firm in its hands.

Diamantis’ adventure began 14 years ago when he went the municipality of Egaleo where he is registered resident in order to vote for the elections of 2003.

He was told he cannot vote because he was not on the constituency list.

He went to Municipality registry to find out that was the problem and why he was deleted from the voters’ lists. Municipality workers simply told him “You are dead!”

At the same time he was declared ‘dead’ by the Egaleo registry, another resident of the municipality with the same name and family name had indeed passed away after hospitalization in a Piraeus hospital. The deceased’ father and mother’s names matched also with those of Diamantis. Only the year of birth was different.

From the Egaleo Municipality he was sent to Athens Registry and from there to prosecutor. The man of law advised him to appeal to court and demand a correction.

When he did so, the judges turned down his appeal saying that the appeal needs to be made by the dead Giannis Diamantis -or better say: by his family-and not by the alive Giannis Diamantis.

Desperate and lost in the country’s bureaucracy, Diamantis and his wife turned to the media. The couple appeared at a morning magazine of private ANT1 TV on Monday.

They told about the unprecedented torture they have been suffering for 14 years.

“At one point, municipality workers in Athens asked me: Are you sure your husband is alive?” the perplexed woman said on camera.

The mistake committed by the Egaleo Municipality has been causing numerous troubles to the couple all these years.

Giannis Diamantis could not accept his father inheritance when he died in 2015 for he was dead on the papers. His son, born before 2003, suddenly was not covered by his father’s health insurance. The family does not receive family allowance because Giannis Diamantis is neither dead nor alive.

And, of course, his wife does not receive widow pension.

The bureaucratic trap has cost the couple already several hundreds of euros in hiring a lawyer and court expenses. When they finally clear the issue, they will be fined when they will accept the grandfather’s inheritance.

A lawyer present at the TV magazine panel offered to pick up the fight with the Diamantis couple free of charge.

Side note: While Giannis Diamantis is dead for the registry he is alive and kicking for the tax office. Every year he files his tax declaration and pays his taxes.

PS the tax office doesn’t not care if you are dead or alive. As long as tax are paid and revenues increase.

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  1. My mother had a similar problem. She was declared dead for years in one country and her birth was declared nonexistent in another. May be this is just an excuse to tell her story. There are so many untold stories in Greece.

    She was born to a wealthy Constantinople family and was carried over as a baby during the 1923 Asia Minor crisis. During the 1930s as a young teenager she rebelled, join the Communists and would sneaked out every night to the underground Rebetiko scene in the old town of Thessaloníki. When the city fell to the Germans, as she spoke several languages, she was recruited by the British. She worked with the communists and the SOE (Special Operations Executive) in Greece, Italy and Alexandria Egypt. Seeing the betrayal of both the communists and the SOE agents in Alexandria, she married a British navy officer and moved to the UK just before the civil war broke out.

    In the mid 1980s she attempted to retire to Greece. She brought a house near Thessaloníki but was unable to reclaim her citizenship. Her brother and sister were on the opposite sides of the civil war and grabbed a large part of her inheritance during the 1950s and 60s. Petrol refineries and factories are now built on this. Worse, she was also able to point out who did what during the deportation of the Jews. There were German SS officers that had passed on information to her (they were sent to die on the Russian front for this). But she was now in a version of Greece where there were some families, who had collaborated during the war, that were part of the Greek political and ruling class. She was prevented or could not prove she was Greek and so the house she brought was illegal (foreigners were not allowed to buy houses “near” to the Greek borders). After two years of chasing papers and receiving threats, she was signed into a mental institution with some doctor ordering her to be given electric shock treatment. With help of an influential lawyer (who threaten to expose everyone) we helped her to return to the UK in 1989.

    On returning to the UK she discovered that she had no pension. She had been declared dead in Greece. I took the UK government to court/tribunal for negligence for failing to double check sources. The government graciously reinstated her pension and gave a her about pounds in compensation. Her story in the UK, like mine, is also strange. She adopted me and raised me as a single parent mother in the 1950s.

  2. Nina Moumtzeli Newton

    That is such an incredible story!