Greece: charges brought against policemen for abuse of Roma in detention

03 April 1999

The Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) reported that the Deputy Prosecutor of the region of Mesolonghi, Greece, Ms Efstathia Salma, had brought charges on December 18, 1998 against three policemen, A.T., H.K., and V.S. They are charged with the ill treatment of two teenage Roma, Lazaros Bekos and Eleutherios Koutropoulos, during detention at the Mesolonghi Police Station on May 7 - 9, 1998 (See "Snapshots from around Europe", Roma Rights Summer 1998).

The three policemen are accused of violating article 137(A)(3)(1) of the Greek criminal code on "torture and other offences against human dignity", "recurrent [repeated instances of] bodily harm caused by a person whose duties are the investigation of possible criminal acts, with the intent to extort from another person under his authority a confession, a deposition or a piece of information". The minimum sentence, if convicted for violation of Article 137(A)(3), is three years, which will be raised if the crime was repeated. The policemen are also charged under Article 94(1) of the Penal Code on crimes which are repeated.

The Ministry of Public Order reportedly undertook an internal investigation after GHM raised the matter with the Ministry on May 11, 1998. Within the framework of this investigation, Ministry officials took signed testimony from the two Romani youths. The investigation had not been completed at the end of 1998. The three indicted policemen were still in Mesolonghi during the investigation. They have allegedly exerted pressure on the Romani youngsters to retract their testimony, among other things by mentioning outstanding investigations into allegations against family members.

(Greek Helsinki Monitor, ERRC)

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