Police brutality against Roma in Greece

07 December 1999

Recent instances of police brutality have been reported in Greece. According to the Athens-based non-governmental organisation Greek Helsinki Monitor, one incident took place on September 12, 1999, in the Kalogreza settlement in Athens during the celebration of a baptism. Police reportedly arrived at approximately 2 AM and requested that the music be turned down. The residents did not comply with this request. A group of approximately fifteen police officers returned a half an hour later and reportedly began swearing at the Roma. When several Romani individuals tried to negotiate with the police, some officers beat and kicked them. Officers allegedly slapped two Romani women in the face. Four of the Roma were reportedly taken to the police station for identity checks, and one of them was detained in connection with an outstanding charge. The other three were released about two hours later. Under Greek law, the offense of disturbing the peace is punishable only by fine. When the Greek Helsinki Monitor investigated the allegations, the police officers denied beating the Roma.

A further case of police brutality in Greece also occurred on September 12, 1999. According to the Greek Helsinki Monitor, police physically and verbally abused a 23-year-old Romani man named Nikos Katsaris from the Chalandri camp near Nafplio in the Peloponnesus region of Greece, as well as three members of his family during a search. Mr Katsaris was with his father, his underage brother and his cousin and the men were traveling around the countryside to various car markets. According to the Greek Helsinki Monitor, the police stopped them as they were leaving a car market just outside Nafplio and searched them at gunpoint. The victims reported that one of the officers swore at them, kicked and beat them. The police allegedly accused them of coming to the car market to steal. All four of the men were taken to the police station and detained in a cell with approximately ten other people. They were not abused while they were in custody. The police released the two young boys that same day and Nikos and his father were released on bail the following day. They were not charged with any crime, but the two older men were fined for working without a license and driving illegally. The Greek Helsinki Monitor has filed a complaint on behalf of Nikos Katsaris and his family. As of November 30, the GHM had received no response to the complaint.

(Greek Helsinki Monitor)

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