Appeal | Day 8: Witnesses in support of the prosecution

Summary

Date:23 February 2024
Location:1st Mixed Court of Appeal of Athens, Room D120B, 6th floor
Access:The hearing is open to the public without restrictions.
Photojournalists are not allowed to cover the trial.
Defendants in attendance:None
Process:Witnesses:

Giorgos Karathanasis, digital evidence expert
P.H., relative of the Kostopoulos family
D.H., worker in a nearby building
K.H., eyewitness
K.A., then employee of “Venetis”
K.M. relative of the victim
L.I., friend of the victim
Elena – Olga Christidis, psychologist, psychotherapist
Athanasios Rachis, police officer
Manos Frangakis, doctor, specialist pathologist
Afroditi Frangou, journalist
Composition of the court:President: Alexandra Vasilakakos
Judges: Dimitrios Oikonomou, Ioanna Chatzaki
Jurors: Asimakopoulou, Athanasopoulou, Kotsopoulou, Kourou
Prosecutor: Stylianos Kostarellos

Day 8 – 23 February 2024

The proceedings started at 09:20, with all the accused absent.

Advocate Glykas, for Chortarias’s defense, asked to read his client’s letter to the court. The president allowed it, however, when it got to the point of calling the witnesses who have testified “false witnesses,” she interrupted and forbade her further reading. The letter was presented to the court.

Witness Giorgos Karathanasis, digital evidence expert

Witness Karathanasis, a technical advisor for the prosecution, testified about his analysis of the digital evidence in the case file. The results of the examination of this material are thoroughly analyzed in his report, submitted to the court by the attorneys of the Kostopoulos family. The witness told the court that the video included in the case file is not the one originally recorded, that is, it is not the original video file from the cell phone itself. He further stated that a reflection of light, that the Directorate of Criminal Investigations of the Police says “could be a knife”, is seen in the same video going through the leg of Zacharias Kostopoulos and therefore it cannot be a knife blade. Furthermore, the witness distinguishes between the DCI report, with which his own views as an expert converge, and a simple assessment entered in a document in the case file by an non-competent Security department.

Witness P.H., relative of the Kostopoulos family

The witness, a retired police officer and a relative of the Kostopoulos family, conveyed the image he had from the family of the victim, while he also testified his opinion that the behavior of the police as it was recorded on video, was unacceptable.

Witness D.H., worker in a building close to the events

Then the witness D.H., from the list of witnesses of the indictment, testified. D.H. described that while she was working in an office on the 5th floor of a building at the corner of Patision and Veranzerou streets, she noticed a man – who she later realized was Zak Kostopoulos – calling for help, while coming from the direction of “MINION” store. Zak was then seen addressing two girls at the traffic light, who avoided him, and then crossed the crosswalk alone, towards the opposite sidewalk of Patision street, and headed toward Gladstonos street, shouting for help. The witness reported that it seemed to her as if he was addressing passersby. When she later saw the posted video, she realized it was the person he had seen earlier.

After the testimony of the witness, there was a brief comment by the advocates of both sides.

Witness K.H., eyewitness, passerby

Witness K.H., a journalist, also one of the indictment’s witnesses, arrived at the scene on his bicycle shortly after the incident had ended. He saw the victim on the ground after the actions of the police and his transport by ambulance. The witness noted that while he knew Zak Kostopoulos and had even interviewed him, he did not recognize him in Gladstonos street because his face was so disfigured.

Witness K.A., then an employee of “Venetis”

The next witness, K.A., an employee at the “Venetis” store at the time, had seen Zak Kostopoulos outside the store, talking intensely with two or three other people, one of whom was known as the “man in the yellow T-shirt”. He couldn’t hear the content of their conversation. He described how the other person went into “Venetis”, bought a bottle of water and went out and gave it to Zak. As the witness at that time was working and serving customers, he did not see what happened next, he only heard the sound of breaking windows, moments later. Then he moved towards the window of “Venetis” and saw some of the events fragmentarily and from a distance. The witness stated that, in addition to “Venetis”, the neighboring shops, such as “Zaharokalamo” and “Aroma”, would logically also have a camera. Finally, he confirmed what he had testified in the first instance, that after the ambulance left, two police officers entered the “Venetis” to ask for a bottle of alcohol to disinfect their hands, saying something like “faggot”.

Witness K.M., a relative of the victim

Then the witness K.M., sister of the victim’s mother, testified. The witness told how she saw Zak’s body at the mortuary, where she was told that the police had the victim’s mobile phone, and how she collected his keys from the funeral home the next day.

Witness L.I., friend of the victim

The next witness, L.I., a friend of the victim from elementary school, testified about the character of the victim and his aversion to violence.

Witness Elena – Olga Christidis, psychologist, psychotherapist

The witness Elena-Olga Christidis, a friend of the victim and a psychologist, called to testify by the support of the prosecution, referred both to the character of Zak Kostopoulos, as a person who was really afraid of violence and would not stand even the thought of it, as well as harassment and attempted attacks that he had received in the past, precisely because of his identity. As the witness said, “he always had the same reaction, to run.”

Witness Athanasios Rachis, police officer

The next witness to testify was the police officer Athanasios Rachis, who said that he and a police officer undertook to collect the videos and found only those from the cameras of “Venetis”, the video from “Proto Thema” newspaper, while he said that the other stores may have cameras but not also a recorder. He also testified that they investigated the antennas to which the victim’s cell phone was connected and were around the area. He then stated how they located the accused but also that they did not search for any more witnesses. It is worth noting at this point that the witness Rachis told the court that in the “Venetis” video “Kostopoulos appears to enter the store, stumbling”, which is not seen in the video from the “Venetis” camera. He said, however, that he has no knowledge of further action, because he was not the investigating officer himself.

Advocate Glykas commented after the end of the testimony of the witness that, in his opinion, everything shows that there was an ischemic episode that had started before and he assured that “we will keep saying this until the verdict”.

Witness Manos Frangakis, doctor, specialist pathologist

The witness Frangakis, a doctor specializing in emergency medicine, having been called by the counsel in support of the prosecution, referred in particular and in detail to how the mechanism of organic stress is activated and how it can bring about death. He ruled out fatty infiltration of the liver as a cause of sudden death. He was also adamant about the impossibility of resuscitation (CPR) in the way the victim was transported with his hands tied behind his back. As to the time the ischemic episode could have started, the witness testified to the description of the World Health Organization committee of inquiry, which places instantaneous death within 30 seconds.

The witness thoroughly answered a number of questions from the defense attorneys and his testimony was commented on.

Witness Afroditi Frangou, journalist

Then came the witness Afroditi Frangou, a journalist at the newspaper “Workers’ Solidarity”. The witness was also called by the prosecution to testify about the attack she received from the defendant Chortarias, which was also reported by the witness Maria Louka. Witness Frangou described how she was physically assaulted by the defendant when she moved to remove stickers with nationalist symbols that the defendant had affixed to a stencil of Zak Kostopoulos’s face at the scene of the murder.

The court adjourned at 14:18 for the next hearing, 13 March 2024.

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

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