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Athens: Abduction and torture in GADA

Athens. Greece. A personal account by a 21 year old Greek about his torture from police officers after a demonstration against police brutality. He was abducted and tortured in GADA. GADA is the name of Police Headquarters in Athens.

Originally published by TCXS. Translation submitted to Enough 14. Translation slightly edited by Enough 14.

21 year old Aris Papazaharoudakis talked to Ef.Syn about his unlawful detention from police officers, one day after the Nea Smyrni riot. He stated that he was abducted and tortured for many hours, while saying that Michalis Chrisichoidis -the minister of Citizen Protection- is responsible for whatever is going to happen to him.

You are amongst the citizens that were arrested one day after the Nea Smyrni demonstration against police violence and you were transferred to the Police Interrogator last Saturday after releasing you with conditions. At first you were accused of attempted murder of the injured police officer but later the charges were dropped. When did they arrest you and where?

My arrest happened one day after the Nea Smyrni demonstration just a few meters from the building that hosts the Anarchist Community «Masovka», of which I am a member. I joined the protest against police brutality in Nea Smyrni but there is not a single evidence accusing me of the ‘act’ (meaning the injury of a police officer during a riot). It was about 7.30 pm and I was about to get a taxi to go home before the lockdown rules apply.

At first a motorcycle stopped in front of me with two people dressed with hoodies, I showed them my id but in a few seconds a car without plates approached me and they threw me on the back bench of the car. They handcuffed me behind my back, they put a hood over my head and put me in the car while they were punching and kicking me. Up until that time I had no idea if those were poilcemen or members of the mafia. Later I understood, that maybe it would be better if they would have been mafia members. Through the hood I could barely see anything, but they were hitting me every time I tried to lift my head. At some point I heard a police cb radio but not from the car and I realised that the car was escorted by police motorcycles. Before my abduction I was informed about the disappearance of my best friend, who was in custody on false charges.

What do you know about your friend’s arrest?

They arrested him outside of his house while he was working. He works as a delivery man and he was abducted during his shift. He was late for work, so his employer contacted his parents, because we were afraid that maybe he had a road accident. When his mother called GADA, they assured her that her son was not in custody, so the family followed the procedure, informing the local police station of their son’s disappearance. They didn’t know at the time that the police was responsible for his disappearance.

Did they drive you to GADA?

Yes, in the basement of the building. I could feel dozens of police officers around me. They started to beat me, they threw me in the elevator and told me: “We are even going to rape your puppy”. They asked me how old I am and when I told them 21 they said: “You have strong feet for a 21 year old,” so they started to beat me right there. They brought me in a room. I was still handcuffed behind my back and hooded like a prisoner of war. I still don’t know how many people entered the room, maybe the whole police force came in and beat me. Some of them were hitting me without talking, while others were cursing, they kept asking me to tell them from which football team I am a fan. I was trying to explain -despite my condition- that I am neither a football fan nor a hooligan and they answered “We don;t give a fuck, you are going to name a team”. At some point the lights went off and the only light I could see was when the door opened and someone would come in to beat me some more.They let me breathe for 5 minutes. Then they started hitting the desks and I could hear machinery and zipper sounds while asking me “are you ready?”. I answered negatively, it was clearly a virtual execution environment. Someone violently hit my face on a desk.

How long did those conditions of psychological and physical torture last?

There was not a single part of my body that was not hit for about 8 straight hours. At some point I realised I was on the 13th floor, because I was transferred one floor down and I could see a logo reading «DAEEV» (Ironically DAEEV is the special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction). I was on the 12th floor and the first round of my torture was over. The second round of my torture started when they showed me a window and told me “If you want to be relieved, nobody is going to stop you. Because in four days you will go to prison for the attempted murder of the policeman and there you will have a chance to count the likes of your posts” (Aris is very active on social media).

Which post did they refer to?

I had commented on Facebook -my post is still active- naming the policemen as ridiculous Inspectors Clouseau (a funny fictional policeman character from Pink Panther) that falsely charge people with crimes. I was referring to the man -whom I don’t know in person- who was arrested because he lost his wallet in the area of the demonstration.

They were constantly asking for names, they specifically asked for political activists. I told them I don’t know and I received elbows on my spine. I thought I was going to become paralysed. I was trying and hoping to pass out so I could be transferred to the hospital or I could just die. I fainted, fell off the chair and they lifted me up from the handcuffs. Suddenly, someone pulled the hood over my head, I said “I am not feeling well” and they answered “Are you ok, did you hit somewhere?”. Then they asked me to sign the document for my arrest and I have to admit that all the confiscated items on the document were the ones I had on me at the time of the arrest (Aris means that police did not plant any false evidence, as it is a common practice of the Greek Police).

I didn’t want them to take my fingerprints because I was afraid they could falsely charge me of a crime and when I told them about Irianna, they answered “Stop watching Netflix” (Irianna was a woman that was falsely convicted for 13 years in prison under the domestic terrorism law. When she was arrested, she voluntarily gave her DNA sample that was later used as false evidence on another case. She was later released after appealing the case in court). They violently took my fingerprints and without my approval. Then I was taken to the 7th floor.

Where there any other people who were arrested on the 7th floor?

At first I was alone in a cell, but I shouted my best friend’s name and he answered. Then they put us together in the same cell but in complete isolation. We didn’t have access to water or a toilet. The only help we had was from the people arrested in the other cells as they managed to give us some water bottles. We drank that water and later piddled in the bottle. We were laying on the concrete floor, no mattress, no blanket, nothing. For two days we didn’t have access to a toilet. They didn’t let us talk to a lawyer, at some point they allowed us tp call our families for 30 seconds while they were showing us their batons so we could understand what was going to happen to us if we talked more than those 30 seconds. Even in court, the anti terrorism squad was next to our lawyer.

Did you ask to be brought to a hospital or did you inform the Interrogator about the torture?

I refused to ask for medical help for dignity reasons. The interrogator could see the scars on my face. My friend and I are political prisoners and that was the only reason why we were in custody. The conversations that the police mentioned only prove that our phones were illegally tapped. I still fear for my life and for my friend’s life. I publicly announce that if anything happens to us, the person responsible will be «Mr Michalis of New Democracy» as I could hear on the 12th floor some policemen to call his name, while they were on the phone with him.

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