Scandalous judgment after “lynching”: police officers acquitted, an author too old for prison!

His death in 2018 not only shook the Greek LGBTQ community…

On Tuesday, a court in Athens sentenced two men (59 and 77) to ten years in prison for the murder of gay activist Zacharias Kostopoulos († 33). The four police officers involved were acquitted. Scandal !

Review: As an LGBTQ activist in Greece, Kostopoulos has notably campaigned for the prevention of AIDS. In nightlife, he was known as the drag queen “Zak/Zackie Oh”. He died on September 21, 2018 – following a beating attack. A 77-year-old jewelry store owner and a 59-year-old man beat the 33-year-old, accusing him of being a thief and a junkie.

The four police officers who arrived also continued to beat the bleeding activists who were already lying on the ground.

“The most inhuman thing I’ve ever seen”

“It was a lynching. There is no other way to describe it,” says Philippos Karagiorgis, who witnessed the attack. Video recordings still show him trying to prevent the attack. attacks with outstretched arms.

“He was on all fours – like a baby – desperately trying to crawl through the shattered glass of the display case. Every time he tried to get up, the two men kicked him in the head, over and over again. “, he recalls.

Karagiorgis was there because his motorcycle ran out of fuel near the store and he stalled.

“There was a lot of excitement, a lot of screaming,” the man told the Guardian when he first spoke about the incident in 2020. “What I will never forget is the crowd apathy, people sitting in cafes and watching like it was a movie, even though it was the most aggressive and inhumane thing I’ve ever seen My soul darkened that that day.

A short time later, Kostopoulos succumbed to his injuries in a hospital.

Evaluated CCTV footage and blood tests belied the perpetrators’ story: The victim was neither under the influence of drugs nor a thief.

outrage at the verdict

The verdict which has just been pronounced angers many people in Athens!

Because: The six men involved were only charged with bodily harm resulting in death, not murder! Additionally, the 77-year-old will be allowed to serve his sentence at home – ‘due to his advanced age’. The four police officers who had also been charged were acquitted!

After the verdict, hundreds of people demonstrated in the streets of Athens against the acquittals.

The lawyer for the family of the 33-year-old man who was killed was also particularly critical of leniency towards violent perpetrators. Anny Paparousou: “This is part of the tradition that police violence is never punished by our courts.” She now wishes to consider other remedies. As reported by the “Guardian”, the president of the court recommended the condemnation of the police officers. However, the secular majority rejected it by a vote of four to three. The victim’s father called the procedure a “joke”.

Amnesty International also spoke of a “lynching”. This was again an incident in which the police used “unnecessary force”. For LGBTQ activists, it’s a “crystalline hate crime”.

The US Embassy in Athens tweeted on Wednesday: “We mourn the loss of Zacharias ‘Zak’ Kostopoulos (…) who courageously fought and defended LGBTQI+ rights. Our hearts go out to his family, friends and the entire LGBTQI+ community in Greece. » Add the hashtag #LoveisLove.

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