Summary of Day 1 (December 14) of 2nd Halandri Case Trial

From Culmine (December 19, 2011):

The session was very short because defense attorney Frangiskos Ragousis, who represents Christos Tsakalos and the brothers Giorgos and Michalis Nikolopoulos, requested that the session be suspended for health reasons. Ragousis is the same attorney who was chosen by the prisoners to take part in negotiations with the authorities during the abortive escape attempt by Fire Cells Conspiracy members on Monday, December 12.

The fourth defendant Damiano Bolano had been transferred to Korydallos the previous afternoon and therefore appeared alone, as there was no time for him to find an attorney. The judges assigned him two public defenders, shameless maggots who accepted their appointment. The judges asked Bolano if he was going to accept them, but he didn’t even bother to respond. Not even according to their own logic, that of Domination, will the public defenders be prepared to “represent and defend their client” given that the case brief (which they need to be familiar with as attorneys) is an enormous load that they will only have six days to read.

Nevertheless, our comrades took advantage of their presence in the courtroom to make a number of political declarations. To begin with, they read the communiqué by the Free Eat and Billy Cell of the Italian FAI, which claimed responsibility for mailing a package-bomb to Deutsche Bank CEO Josef Ackermann. Our comrades then stated: “This is a political trial, or even better, a court martial that will judge anarchist urban guerrillas.” They also said: “We don’t see ourselves as defendants but rather as proud members of the Fire Cells Conspiracy revolutionary organization. To us, the defendants are the judges and prosecutors, and we will make sure to emphasize that during this trial. We don’t recognize the judicial proceeding or the prosecutors as capable of judging us, but from inside here we will subvert the terms according to which this trial is being held in order to transform it into a step toward making our political convictions known.” Michalis Nikolopoulos said: “We are urban guerrillas, you are ‘warehousers of spirits’ in the very warehouses with which you intend to repress revolutionary action via your special courts.” In Greece, the term “warehouse of spirits” is often used to refer to prisons and prison conditions. Nikolopoulos added: “You inquisitors of the modern judicial mafia should know that we are at war. We will fight against you. We have learned how to struggle against the State.” Tsakalos explained: “I’m not going to respond to formal questions in the style of ‘What do you call yourselves?’ or questions about my birth date. I am a member of the Fire Cells Conspiracy, I am an anarchist, and I am an urban guerrilla. The charges you have leveled against us are an honor. What we are going to demonstrate from here, from this court martial you have staged, is that you are the true culprits. We will continue our actions, so it would be best if you shut your mouths and didn’t ask us questions.”

Additionally, it was mentioned that subsequent sessions would address and respond to the matter of the collection of identification information from people attending the trial in solidarity, as well as the lack of audio recording of the proceedings. You’ll recall that prior excuses involved so-called “security measures” imposed by the police and the Justice Ministry’s supposed “lack of money.” During the first Halandri Case trial, which lasted from January to July, it was those “details” among others that led to half the defendants refusing to attend the trial.

In general, the atmosphere was highly charged. Right from the beginning, Giorgos Nikolopoulos said: “We are your solemn enemies.” All the defendants treated the judges with visible disdain, etc. For example, when one of the judges formally reminded Bolano that he has “the right to be represented by a defense attorney,” Bolano cut him off by saying: “Why are you even speaking? I already know that and you will not be giving me classes in rights.”

In the Korydallos courtroom there were about 20 friends and people showing solidarity, another group of prosecution witnesses and reporters, and of course the obligatory presence of some 30 pieces of undercover “human furniture.” Outside, there were riot police and Antiterrorist Unit agents.

The trial will continue on December 20.

The day before the trial began, the Solidarity Assembly organized a solidarity talk at Athens Polytechnic, the poster for which can be found here.

Luckily, the comrades who tried to escape from Korydallos on Monday, December 12 were able to call in. It must be pointed out that this practice, whereby an interactive talk is organized during which prisoners call in via telephone at a previously agreed time so that they can be spoken to and asked questions via a speakerphone system, is quite common in Greece. Michalis Nikolopoulos and Christos Tsakalos were on the line. Given Monday’s events, they mainly talked about their escape attempt and the taking of hostages, but without going into great detail. They confirmed that two other Fire Cells Conspiracy members—Giorgos Nikolopoulos and Giorgos Polydoras—also took part in the escape attempt, as did Theofilos Mavropoulos. Regarding the matter of their collaboration with the “bandit” Panayiotis Vlastos, they simply said: “He wanted to get out, and so did we. That’s all.”

As a farewell, Tsakalos said: “Until the next escape!”

Afterward, comrade Olga Economidou called in from Eleonas women’s prison near Thebes. She talked about the upcoming criminal proceedings and trials awaiting the Fire Cells Conspiracy, as well as a little about the conditions in the women’s prison, etc. Among other things, she said: “The presence of comrades showing solidarity in the courthouses is certainly important, but street postering and arson are the things that really give us strength!”

Also attending the talk was one of anarchist prisoner Stella Antoniou’s family members, who was among the people trapped in the Korydallos visiting area for five hours during Monday’s hostage situation. He spoke about the solidarity and understanding shown toward the prisoners’ escape attempt by the 25 family members who were there, as well as about the police abuse and intimidation they suffered after getting out.

Meanwhile, the news these days has been full of articles about “cooperation between terrorists and criminals,” “knife-wielding anarchists foiling antiquated prison security measures,” and—as always in these cases—no shortage of references to a “hero who saved the day.” That “hero” is a guard who “despite his panic, managed to hit the security button that closed the door to the visiting area—the last door keeping the prisoners from their freedom.” Authorities are investigating how the pistol and three kitchen knives (as well as another knife, an improvised screwdriver, and cell phones) got into the prisoners’ hands. A photo of the “instruments of escape” can be found here.

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