Appeal | Day 6: Eyewitness accounts and Forensic Architecture

Summary

Date:15 February 2024
Location:1st Mixed Court of Appeals, Athens, room D120A
Access:The hearing is open to the public without restrictions.
Photojournalists are not allowed to cover the trial.
Defendants in attendance:Athanasios Chortarias, owner of a real estate agency
Process:Μάρτυρες:
S.A., eyewitness, working in adjacent building
Athanasios Kambras, police officer, commander “Z team”
X.D., eyewitness
T.E., first responder
Christina Varvia, researcher, Forensic Architecture
L.D., eyewitness, retired police officer
Composition of the court:President: Alexandra Vasilakakos
Judges: Dimitrios Oikonomou, Ioanna Chatzaki
Jurors: Asimakopoulou, Athanasopoulou, Kotsopoulou, Kourou
Prosecutor: Stylianos Kostarellos

Day 6 – 15 February 2024

The procedure started at 09:14 with the commenting of the testimony of the witness Tsadiris by the advocate Glykas for the defense of the accused Chortarias. The advocate reiterated the allegation of Zacharias Kostopoulos’ “previous situation” and that “no connection (of his client’s actions) with the present result has been proven.”

Witness S.A., eyewitness, worker in an adjacent building

The witness S.A. testified that he was at his workplace, on the 6th floor of a building on Gladstonos Street, opposite the jewelry store. From there, he heard windows breaking, went out to the balcony, saw people outside throwing things at the glass, and a little later he heard a loud voice “Mr. Spyros, don’t”. The witness reported that he went back into his office for 2-3 minutes to talk on the phone and, when he came out again, he saw the victim covered in blood outside the window, the arrival of the police and a rescuer, as well as the last attempt of Zach Kostopoulos to escape, which ended with the policemen falling on him. He also saw the body of Zak Kostopoulos being put into the ambulance without his hands being released and noted that the ambulance left without a siren, while he also saw a man holding a television camera and one of the police officers told him “you go and wait for me there”, motioning for him to step aside.

At the end of the witness’s examination, the defense attorney Glykas again provoked the intervention of the president as he kept interrupting the witness and asked to evaluate the statements of the police officers.

Witness Athanasios Kambras, police officer, commander “Z”

The witness police officer Athanasios Kambras came to testify as brigadier general and director of Attica’s Emergency Police Response. He was not present at the events and stated that what he knows are from the video and from the accounts of the policemen who were present. The police officers told him that they assessed the victim as “dangerous with flight tendencies.” When questioned by the defense counsel, witness Kambras replied that he does not know anything about the disciplinary process against the police officers involved, that he does not remember if the victim was covered in blood on the video, that he does not know the phone call received by the Emergency Police Response and does not know when the victim died. He also said he did not remember whether the police cordoned off the area to search for witnesses and evidence. In the questions from the defense attorneys, Anagnostopoulos and Glykas, he repeated that everything he knows is from the video and from what was conveyed to him.

Witness X.D., eyewitness

Then the witness X.D. testified, who placed himself in a cafe opposite, from which he suddenly heard a noise of breaking objects. He saw some things being thrown from outside towards Zacharias Kostopoulos who was inside the jewelry store, but not who threw them. He reported seeing the victim holding a small knife when he was bent over at the bottom of the display case. He described both defendants kicking the victim hard, causing him to fall down holding his neck. The witness said a paramedic then immediately approached and, shortly afterwards, when Zak got up to try to escape, he was kicked in the shoulder by a bystander, who he described as a “policeman”. To a question from the president, he answered that the victim did not make an aggressive move with the knife.

Witness T.E., first responder

The witness T.E., a rescuer who tried to give first aid to the victim after his initial beating, in front of the window of the jewelry store, testified that he went to the scene after hearing relevant information on his motorcycle’s radio and that he arrived when Zak Kostopoulos he was outside the jewelry store, injured, holding his neck. When he approached, he saw that the victim had a blunt force trauma to the head and described performing oximetry and blood pressure on the victim. The witness T.E. also testified that he tried to speak to the injured Zacharias Kostopoulos but he did not speak to him at all, and that the victim was bleeding from a head wound.

The rescuer described Zak Kostopoulos’ handling of the glass as follows: the victim grabbed a piece of broken window glass, about 20 centimetres long, that was on the ground with one hand, without turning on him or anyone else elsewhere. Furthermore, the witness reaffirmed that he found that the victim was dead when the ambulance picked him up, as he no longer had a pulse, as he had also testified in the first trial.

After the testimony of the witness there was a break and then the defense attorneys made a brief comment on his testimony.

Witness Christina Varvia, researcher, Forensic Architecture

The next witness was Christina Varvia, member of the Forensic Architecture research center of Goldsmiths University of London. After the witness explained, in a series of clarifying questions from the president, what it is, how it works and on which other cases Forensic Architecture has worked, she described the methodology of the technical study on the collected material. (Forensic Architecture’s report can be found here)

The witness listed the highlights of the events, without showing the accompanying video of the technical study (you can see it here ) and explained how the synchronization of the individual videos is made. She also noted that 14 kicks to the victim over a period of 11 seconds were recorded.

This was followed by a brief commentary on the witness Varvia’s testimony by the defense attorneys.

Witness L.D., eyewitness, retired police officer

Then the witness L.D., a retired police officer, who was passing by the scene, testified. As she said, she had passed Gladstonos street and had just passed by the “Venetis” store, when she heard voices and turned back. She saw people sitting and drinking coffee at the nearby tables, and from that she concluded that nothing dangerous was going on, so she approached and asked. Bystanders told her about a “jewelry shop robber.” She saw the defendant Dimopoulos throw an object that appeared to her to be a stone towards the store and, after getting closer, she saw the victim at the bottom of the window trying to get out. She described him being kicked by the defendants, and that she herself screamed “stop, you’re going to kill him”. The defendants ignored her and continued kicking him. When she saw the victim come out holding his neck, she feared he had been cut there. Then she saw another witness, K.F. (the “man with the pigtail”) coming and shouting at the accused “what are you doing there”.

The witness reported that the two defendants were shouting at the victim “you fucking faggot, you fucking faggot, you dare walk in”. She described that no one was in danger from the victim and that the bystanders were not afraid, while she said that the two defendants did not give the impression of deterrence but of anger and the intention of punishment, because the victim had entered the store.

After the witness testified, defense attorneys complained to the court about what they described as a “verbal assault,” which allegedly occurred while the court was in a brief recess.

The court adjourned at 14:54 for the next hearing on 20 February 2024.

The full text of our transcript from the courtroom (in Greek) :

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