Necati Zontul is a Turkish National who was tortured and raped in Greece in summer 2001. The assault was initially denied by the Coastguard, the Ministry of Merchant Marine and then dismissed as a one-off incident by the police:
August 14, 2001: Head of Internal Affairs, Vassilis Tsiatouras dismisses the incident in Chania as a one-off aberration. Any abuse resulted from "heavy work load that the master of the Heraklion harbor, captain Markos Koutsourakis, who oversees the EDE, had" (August 12 Avgi: The white cells of Chania). The Chief of the CoastGuard, Andreas Syrigos, says that "based on information received from the person who carries out the EDE, the immigrants were injured while they were either having an argument or attempting to escape" In contrast a UNHCR official told reporters: "One does not have to be a doctor to see that these people were beaten." (Athens News)
After international pressure, 6 men were tried (Flourakis, Lefakis, Moumtzis and Valirakis, Vaddakis and Dandoulakis)and 5 found guilty in 2001. Subsequently, three of them were acquitted and the sentences of the other two, DANDOULAKIS and VARDAKIS, who were specifically linked to the allegation of rape, were dramatically reduced to fines. It is understood that they remain in uniform, but the Greek Government has persistently refused to deny or admit this. The Athens News reported the 2004 case in sensational terms:
"This is the first time officers in Greece are charged with torture and abuse of authority based on article 137A of the Greek criminal code. If convicted, they face from three years up to life in prison.
More than 100 asylum seekers reported having suffered beatings and other inhuman and degrading treatment at a makeshift detention centre in Hania, Crete in May 2001. They were part of a group of 119 men, 20 women, and 25 children from Iraq, Iran, Ethiopia, Afghanistan and Pakistan."
they also provided a list of victims who were hospitalised or seriously traumatised:
- Necati Zontul, 36: beaten and raped by a coastguard officer
- Ardal Akgun, age 17: extensive inflammation on the right side of his chest.
- Ozgan Eshik, age 17: swelling of his right elbow
- Hanafi Alton, age 36: large bruise across his chest.
- Bulent Sahin, age 27: complains of acute deafness in his right ear.
- Halil Gilgil, age 20: severe abdominal pain
- Farhad Damir, age 18, large haematoma in the back of his left thigh.
- Gehad Korlalg, age 26, complains of head injury and has two bruises
- Khalid Bagish, age 29, bruise on the right abdomen and two bruises around his armpits.
- Mehmet Nuri Aktay, age 29: complains of pain when moving his left arm and has bruises on the left side of his back.
- Rahme Tunc, age 29, four bruises on his back.
Since the publication of this summary (Athens News: 27 February 2004, Kathy Tzilivakis), further evidence has surfaced of other victims, who for one reason or another failed to testify. Specifically, another (Kurd) victim called Yussef, who alleges rape and talks of Russian roulette and mock executions.
Necati's original evidence given to translator Lisa Turkuman was seriously condensed and essentially faulty. On the basis of this and an interview with the Greek Helsinki Monitor in October 2001, Amnesty recorded in its report of 2002 that Necati "changed his evidence". He insists he did no such thing, and indeed at the trial in 2004, the Commander of the unit testified against his own men and seems to corroborate Necati's story. Recently, Amnesty International Secretariat admitted, that the staff at the Athens Office had resigned and that they had perhaps relied too much on information about the case that had come from only one source. Indeed, from the first television interview to Tempo TV he gave in October 2001, when footage was intercut with scenes from "Basic Instinct", there seems to have been an effort to discredit Necati. When the Archbishop of Athens, Christodoulos was approached for help in 2003, he went on National television that evening to say "All Turks are Barbarians." Christodoulos has never publicly condemned the rise in racist agitation and its apparent links with the Greek Orthodox Church. (http://www.archive.org/details/FullNecatiFilmPreview)
The MEP Bill Miller wrote to the Ministry of Justice a few times and received no reply in over 3 years. The Greek Embassy in London denied that any court case was taking place in 2004 and in 2006, a court official in the Military Appellate Court in Athens told Necati that his assailant, Dandoulakis, was "really a good boy" and that Necati was not among witnesses being called to testify. Despite apparent bias, however, the guilty verdict was upheld.
Nevertheless, the Greek Government has failed to apologise, accept responsibility for the actions of its armed and uniformed security personnel, issue a statement of non-recurrence or offer compensation. The Greek Ombudsman has written to and repeatedly discussed (in 2007) with the Greek Government suggesting that an apology and a statement of sympathy would be in order. The Government has never responded. Further instances of torture, and abuse by the Greek Coastguard have been recorded and some are recorded on Youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?search=&mode=related&v=q13MfYkfywo) and ref to Pakistani torture in 2005:http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/crime/article335337.ece
The Greek Government in response to a request from the British Foreign Office in 2006-2007 issued a range of 4 conflicting dates for the cessation of national remedies.
Together with his partner, Tim Wilson, Necati has been making a film of his experiences. It mixes animation and live action footage and will be completed in two parts. The first, "A Torture Cartoon" is due for release in February 2011 and the second, "A Travesty of Justice", sponsored by Screen South and the RIFE lottery project, is due to be released in summer 2011.
The case is now before the European Court of Human rights. the treatment of foreign detainees and refugees in Greece has not greatly improved - to such an extent that the British Government has recently decided not to send refugees / asylum seekers back to Greece should they subsequently have made their way to the UK. http://ncadc.wordpress.com/2010/09/20/uk-suspends-returns-of-asylum-seekers-to-greece/
http://www.greekhelsinki.gr/bhr/english/organizations/ghm/annual_report_2001.rtf http://mostlywater.org/video_greece_shocking_video_of_the_torture_of_immigrants_inside_police_station http://www.diplomaticobserver.com/news_read.asp?id=1654 http://www.amnesty.org.uk/news_details.asp?NewsID=15837 (Afghans tortured)
In 2012, Necati's case was successful. The torture was admitted and modest compensation arranged. this was organised by the British charity REDRESS. Necati gave an interview to REDRESS which can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0be2fk6k9Iw Further violence to foreigners has continued in Greece, and has involved the detention and abuse of foreign tourists: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-20958353
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