In May 2008, police officers George Panelas, Charalambos Vaitsouides, Charalambos Panastasiou and Maria Mousteli attempted to arrest Nicos Sakellion on Anaxagoras Street in the centre of Athens. During the arrest, the young student was assaulted by the aforementioned police officers and collapsed at their hands, according to a description made by an eye-witness who recorded the entire incident on a mobile phone camera.
The defendants, who were later accused for involuntary manslaughter, were employed at the notorious Acropolis P.D. which is widely known for cases of police brutality, violence and torture. In 2013, the officers were initially found not guilty. In May 2014, following a district attorney’s appeal against the court ruling, the Court of Appeals declared the defendants innocent once again. As the previous court decisions highlight the failure of the justice system to successfully prosecute the defendants, the deputy D.A. of the Supreme Court, Demetris Drasoulas, filed an appeal against the previous court rulings in April 2015.
The Supreme Court failed to consider the appeal filed by the prosecutor in an effort to overrule the judicial decision made by the Court of Appeals since it led to the acquital of the four officers for the manslaughter of 24 year-old student Nicos Sakellion. Evidently, the Supreme Court has validated the previous acquitals and reinforced the judicial immunity provided to police officers in cases of murder.
The Criminal Court regarded the previous rulings completely and expertly substantiated. The court failed to consider testimonies describing a brutal assault against the victim as well as video footage proving the reliability of key witnesses’ testimonies and evidence presented in the court room that could have potentially enraged the public had the case ever been in the spotlight. This case reveals the systemic cover-up practices of crimes committed by the police and raises questions for the way the Justice System treated this case through a number of omissions.
The victim’s family has struggled with this case for the past seven and a half years.
Following the announcement of the ruling of the Supreme Court, we contacted Mrs. Joanna Curtovic, who represented the victim’s family in court. She gave us the following statement:
This case is characterized by a shocking history of cover-ups and it took five years for the trial to begin. District attorneys brought this case to justice in three different occasions which eventually concluded with the acquital of the defendants.
The E.U. Court of Human Rights will have the last word since it repeatedly convicted Greece in the past for the stance of courts across the country, since they consistently refuse to find police officers responsible in cases of manslaughter, even if people died at their hands.
Translated by BlackCat
Source: Omnia TV