a torture cartoon, promotion
xenophobia in greece, from "A TORTURE CARTOON"
Ministry of Merchantil Marine,
Grigori Lambraki 111
185 18 Piraeus
11th August 2007
Re: rape and torture of Necati ZONTUL 2001
Dear Secretary General,
I refer to my letter of April 24th 2007 to the Minister of Merchant Marine which I enclose, and which I am shocked to report has neither been acknowledged nor answered by Mr Kafalogiannis. I regard this as a gross insult particularly as it is clear that the questions I was raising three months’ ago have been “repeatedly” discussed by your staff and senior representatives of the Greek Ombudsman’s office and that you have been firmly advised by them to respond.
In the meantime, we have received from the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs a collection of legal papers which have been rendered into English by authorized translation services in Greece. I must report that a number of documents have been sent only in English and the Greek originals have been omitted. As many of the translations are laughably faulty (the persistent use of the word “glob” to translate the weapon carried by your staff and that was, of course, inserted into the bottom of my partner Necati Zontul. For the record, a “Glob” is spittal or mucus, and the correct translation should have been baton, truncheon, club, or stick; there are many other errors that demonstrate a laziness and arrogance ill-suited to the job of an “official” or accredited translator), it is doubly disturbing that key texts have been omitted and I trust you will understand that I remain seriously doubtful that the Greek Government is committed at all to transparency in this case. Regarding the legal papers, Necati is shocked to see how seriously abbreviated and how scandalously wrong was the Greek translation of the statement he made to your officers when he first testified about his rape at their hands in Souda in 2001.
Given the efforts made in the past to silence Necati and to deny him a voice in Court, the threats and evasions we both suffered at the hands of cronies whose intention was clearly to pervert the course of justice; given parallel cases currently before the ECHR, the long litany of unanswered letters and the continued incidence of torture by Greek uniformed officers, as well as the continued promotion and indulgence of proscribed terrorist groups on Greek soil, and the bias of Greek-staffed NGOs, I hope you will understand that I anticipate further attempts on the part of the Ministry to duck its responsibility.
I am happy to be proven wrong and I look forward to reading what you have to write. God knows how long you have had to consider what you might say!
Let me make one thing very clear, however: while we acknowledge the verdict and conclusion of this case in the Greek courts, we are no longer alone in observing a legal process riddled with error, and punctuated with abuse and discrimination; you are, therefore, in no position to crow about the efficacy of the Law in this case, for it has been efficacious only in demonstrating a need for serious political debate that covers the nature of torture itself, the impunity of the state forces, the natire and condemnation of homosexual and male rape, racism in the State Church, and the failure and/or complicity of those who act as accredited translators and interpreters.
I refer again to the confusion over the dating of the final decision of the Appellate court, as well as the desultory manner in which legal papers, which both Necati and I have persistently requested for the last 6 years, have now been handed over to the British Government.
However, it is clear even from these papers that serious events indeed took place in Hania and it is implicit in a number of the more bizarre documents that serious efforts were made to cover up the crimes and indeed to distort the testimony of the witnesses and victims.
I note that you are encouraged to commit to writing your Ministry’s condemnation of the brutality of the men who were found guilty and your determination that the torture and abuse Necati sustained at their hands will not be tolerated in future; If you had written earlier, maybe the torture of Afghans in 2004, of Pakistanis in 2005 and of various people this year would not have taken place. Your hesitation compounds their suffering and further cheapens your country’s commitment to Human Rights’.
I also note in the letter of 27th July from Mr Takis, that you are encouraged to send Necati a letter expressing sympathy for what he suffered. While I applaud these demands and your implied assent, and while I await your letter of apology, I must remind you, as a representative of both your Ministry and of your Government, that in the light of continued torture by the Greek Authorities (most recently seen on Youtube footage shot by policemen who seem to celebrate their brutality), nothing less than a Presidential apology, statement of non-recurrence and the offer of credible compensation is acceptable to Necati, and this matter, though now advanced, will not be closed until such is received.
It is shocking to me that so much pressure has had to be applied to your Ministry by your own people in the Ombudsman’s office before you bother to express any regret at all for what happened to my partner at the hands of uniformed men representing your offices, and I trust that your legal advisor, Mr Maris, will be at hand to point out the difference between your legal obligations, your moral duty and your humanity. It should be clear from the progress of this case that the law covering torture in Greece is inadequate both in its wording and in the legal interpretation it has so far received, but even accepting its shortcomings, your Ministry’s silence and failure in the face of a confirmed guilty verdict to write to the victim more than a year after the final appeal is concluded shows a moral weakness that truly damages the image of your country. This is a weakness that cannot be blamed on any the former administration, or any fault in the Law.
Today, I note that people have been marching in Crete in protest at the yobbish behaviour of British and Austrian tourists. I have followed the antics of these tourists with interest and regret, but the knee-jerk justice your country has handed-out to those who bit an officer of the law and stuffed a greek flag down their trousers further ridicules the lenient and tardy sentences given to men who beat, and raped men women and children in 2001 who had appealed to Greece for help.
In the last few months, I have collected testimony from a number of other victims of the Souda atrocity in 2001. I am shocked to learn that it went on for significantly longer than your court testimony suggests; that it was initiated by a senior officer while the boat was still at sea, and that, far from the example dutifully repeated by complicit NGOs in Athens of a victim being made to jump like a rabbit, some of the victims suffered mock executions and were forced to play Russian roulette. The macho and racist abuse recorded on police video this summer in Athens strongly supports the stories I have collected – of bullying, sexual harassment and intimidation.
I earnestly hope, therefore, that you will take the advice of the Ombudsman, and also use your own authority to intercede with the President, and that we shall soon be in receipt of letters that make it clear Greece intends to change the mindset of its uniformed officers. For now, I trust you will refrain from any further attempt to promote the wider use of the Greek Coastguard as a force that might patrol the waters of the Mediterranean under a European flag for FRONTEX.
In the meantime, I wish your Chronia Polla on the feast of the Dormition
And I look forward to your reply
Manolis Kefalogiannis, Esqre.,
Ministry of Merchant Marine,
150 Grigori Lambraki Street
Dear Mr Kefalogiannis,
Re: rape and torture of Necati ZONTUL 2001
I am concerned that I have not received any letters expressing regret or sympathy to my partner for what was done to him by the Coastguard in 2001; neither have I received any letters expressing sympathy, apology or offering an explanation for the 6 years of evasion, deceit, threats and injustice that have followed. Much of this may not have been orchestrated by the Ministry or the Government, but the silence of your Government has not helped to stop the abuse, and appears, frankly, to condone it. While we have now demanded a Presidential and Prime Ministerial apology and a statement at the highest level of non-recurrence, I believe it is also equally appropriate to expect a letter of sympathy from the current Minister of Merchant Marine, and a formal investigation into how and why your Pasok predecessor tried to cover up the incidence of torture.
Despite the fact that your Ministry was notified of serious errors in the progress of the trial of my partner’s assailants, your Government has not seen fit to apologise and has provided a desultory and derisory catalogue of conflicting dates in response to our repeated requests for information about the final date of the Appeal. Three of these conflicting dates were given to the British Government in response to their request for this information. Whether the reason for this is incompetence or deceit does not matter- it falls beneath the standards we accept from a European Government.
I am writing to you because I know you studied in the UK and are familiar with the nuances of English, and because, therefore, I believe you are more likely to appreciate the deep disappointment I feel at the treatment both Necati and I suffered at the hands of the Greek Authorities over the last 6 years. It does Greece no credit and the current Government should hang its head in shame with its predecessors rather than bury its head in the sand like an ostrich and hope the problems will pass!
Believe me, that cannot happen, and I appeal to you personally to work with me to ensure that the best possible outcome is reached for us all. We are fully aware that this is a problem you inherited, (we know, for instance, that k.Miltiades Barbitsiotis demanded the resignation of the then Pasok Minister of Merchant Marine). I wrote to the Greek Prime Minister some years ago to suggest that I would welcome a resolution that sees Greece lead a European initiative against torture. That remains the case.
I have a record of unanswered letters sent to Greek politicians since 2002, many of which I copied and presented in a dossier to former President Stephanopoulos. Copies of my other letters, including those sent to the Naval Court prosecutor (in both English and in Greek) and to the Appeal Court in advance of the various trials, were passed on to the Ombudsman, the Greek Embassy in the UK and also to the current President’s office. It is not enough to go through the motions of justice, particularly when our experience of conversations with, for example, Ms Triandafilou in the Appellate Court office, makes it clear that there was bias in favour of the defendants; and also because the time it has taken to get the case to court makes a nonsense of Greece’s undertaking to honour Europe’s commitment to Human Rights. The last 6 years are marked, more particularly, by a complete and utter absence of any expression of support for the victim, to such an extent that, despite my repeated requests for protection, we were threatened by men with guns and diplomats advised us to leave your country.
We have recently had renewed threats and I have passed my concerns about these to the British Police. It strikes me that without any clear statement from the Greek Government condemning torture and condemning this instance of torture in particular, there will continue to be rogue elements in your society who will believe that the Greek State does no harm in allowing men who wear the State uniform to abuse men, women and children who seek protection on your shores. In particular, I am distressed that in his defence, one of the assailants seems to draw on the fantasy of oriental sodomy or “Ottomanike”. I hope you share my belief that this sort of nonsense is demeaning and belongs to the past!
I am writing to you as an Orthodox Christian myself in saying that it is essential to Greece’s international reputation that the racism embraced by extreme groups is condemned and that, while he remains head of a State Church, and a civil servant, the Archbishop of Athens is further discouraged from appearing to endorse their views.
I refer you to the letter that was sent to Mrs Panayotopoulou by the Deputy Ombudsman, Andreas Takis (ref: 13th March 2007; Prot. 8346/06/2.6). Should you wish to discuss the Ministry’s way forward, I am happy to speak to you, and I can arrange to meet you in London when you are next visiting.