Abravanel, the Blog

Jewish life and not only in Greece / Εβραϊκή ζωή και όχι μόνο στην Ελλάδα

Greek newspaper condemned on racist remarks (!)

Posted by Abravanel, the Blog στο 11/03/2008

anti-semitism020430.pngWow, I can’t say that I’m not impressed! On March 5th a greek court condemned the publisher, the editor and the journalist of the newspaper Eleftheros Kosmos for the article of the latter that «insulted the religious group of the Jews«. The article appeared in 2006 and the lawsuit was an initiative of the Greek Helsinki Monitor which again proves worthy of it’s fame!

What did they guy said? The usual stuff like «Thank God not even 1500 Jews aren’t left in Thessaloniki…» , «…the supposed saponification of the Jews…». Nothing new that I can’t hear every other day in some obscure or less obscure media. This time, maybe following the recent conviction of nazi-admirer K.Plevris, a greek court decided that this constitutes a violation of the renown but never applied anti-racism law 927/1979. The court decided that they expressed hate and denied the extermination of thousands of jews. For this Zafiropoulos Dimitrios, Georgiou Theodoros and Chatzigogos Theodoros were convicted to 7 months of probation the first two and 7 months to be bought with 5 euros/diem for the latter.

For the first time it was also allowed for the Central Jewish Board, (ΚΙΣ), to appear as civil part which overruled the previous scandalous decision during the Plevris trial. The well-known politicians S.Vougias and G.Boutaris were absent despite the fact that initially they had testified since the article had involved their names too.

What can I say? That I didn’t expect it but still it’s some great piece of news. Certainly will not deter any other racist journalist but acts as a statement that the greek Justice system recognizes that this stuff is the expression of pure hatred and Greece, at least in principle, does not accept it. In other words it’s a nice moral support which certainly is a positive step to the right direction – congrats on Petropoulou Salata, Tsangari and Velissariou who were the court members for their courage to apply the law and of course the Greek Helsinki Monitor.

DeviousDiva also posted about it and has the english translation of the  court decision.

The Greek Helsinki Monitor press release: http://cm.greekhelsinki.gr/index.php?sec=192&cid=3252

Tο Ελληνικό Παρατηρητήριο των Συμφωνιών του Ελσίνκι (ΕΠΣΕ) χαιρετίζει τη σημερινή καταδίκη από το ΙΑ’ Τριμελές Πλημμελειοδικείο Αθηνών «κατά το κατηγορητήριο λόγω προσβολής της θρησκευτικής ομάδας των Εβραίων», όπως ανακοίνωσε η Πρόεδρός του Ασημίνα Πετροπούλου-Σαλάτα (μέλη οι Κωνσταντίνος Βελισσάρης και Χαρίκλεια Τσαγγαρού), των στελεχών του «Ελεύθερου Κόσμου» Δημήτριου Ζαφειρόπουλου, Θεόδωρου Γεωργίου (δικάστηκε ερήμην) και Θεόδωρου Χατζηγώγου. Κρίθηκαν ένοχοι για παραβίαση του αντιρατσιστικού νόμου 927/79 γιατί, κατά το επισυναπτόμενο κατηγορητήριο, σε κείμενο της εφημερίδας στις 12 Μαρτίου 2006, «με αναμφισβήτητα προσβλητικές φράσεις αφενός μεν εκφράζεται μίσος και περιφρόνηση κατά των Εβραίων και επιθυμία όπως μη υπάρχουν Εβραίοι στη Θεσσαλονίκη και γενικότερα, αφετέρου δε αμφισβητείται ευθέως και χλευάζεται το γεγονός της εξολόθρευσης χιλιάδων Εβραίων από τους Γερμανούς στα στρατόπεδα συγκεντρώσεως κατά τη διάρκεια του Β΄ Παγκοσμίου Πολέμου». Ο Εισαγγελέας της έδρας Σταύρος Σακελλαρίου είχε επίσης ζητήσει την καταδίκη τους, γιατί «και λόγω της δημοσιογραφικής τους ιδιότητας γνώριζαν πως όσα έγραφαν προσέβαλαν τους Εβραίους». Στον κάθε καταδικασθέντα επιβλήθηκε ποινή επτά μηνών φυλάκισης (με αναστολή για τους Χατζηγώγο και Γεωργίου και με μετατροπή σε πρόστιμο 5 ευρώ την ημέρα για το Ζαφειρόπουλο λόγω προηγούμενης τελεσίδικης καταδίκης σε 6 μήνες φυλάκιση), με ανασταλτικό χαρακτήρα μέχρι την εκδίκαση τυχόν έφεσης.

Σημαντικό στοιχείο της δίκης είναι πως στην αρχή της διαδικασίας δήλωσε παράσταση πολιτικής αγωγής (θεωρώντας δηλαδή εαυτή θιγόμενη από το δημοσίευμα) μόνο το στέλεχος του ΕΠΣΕ Andrea Gilbert, υπεύθυνη για την παρακολούθηση του αντισημιτισμού και προφανώς Εβραία η ίδια, η οποία παρίστατο μέσω του νομικού συμβούλου του ΕΠΣΕ Θανάση Τάρτη. Οι κατηγορούμενοι έκαναν ένσταση κατά της παράστασης πολιτικής αγωγής, την οποία το δικαστήριο, μετά από σύμφωνη εισαγγελική πρόταση, απέρριψε. Μετά την αποδοχή της παράστασης του ΕΠΣΕ, και με βάση το δεδικασμένο, ζήτησαν τα στελέχη του Κεντρικού Ισραηλιτικού Συμβουλίου (ΚΙΣ) Μωϋσής Κωνσταντίνης και Αβραάμ Ρεϊτάν να παρασταθούν επίσης ως πολιτικώς ενάγοντες, κάτι που έγινε δεκτό. Υπενθυμίζεται πως στην προηγηθείσα δίκη Κώστα Πλεύρη – Ελεύθερου Κόσμου πάλι για αντισημιτικά κείμενα, το Δεκέμβριο 2007, η πολιτική αγωγή των στελεχών του ΕΠΣΕ και του ΚΙΣ είχε αποβληθεί. Κατά της αποβολής αυτής έφεση άσκησε μόνο το ΕΠΣΕ, το οποίο επιμένει –και με εκτενή ελληνική και διεθνή νομολογία- πως πρέπει η πολιτική αγωγή να γίνεται δεκτή: η σημερινή απόφαση δικαίωσε το ΕΠΣΕ και σε αυτό το σημείο. Έκπληξη προκάλεσε η αναιτιολόγητη απουσία των μαρτύρων Σπύρου Βούγια και Γιάννη Μπουτάρη που είχαν καταθέσει κατά την προκαταρκτική εξέταση αφού το δημοσίευμα τους έθιγε. Αντίθετα, απουσίαζε δικαιολογημένα (στην Κύπρο) ο Καθηγητής Γιώργος Τσιάκαλος.

Τέλος, υπενθυμίζεται πως η υπόθεση ξεκίνησε με μηνυτήρια αναφορά του ΕΠΣΕ στον Προϊστάμενο της Εισαγγελίας Πρωτοδικών Αθηνών, στις 12 Μαρτίου 2006. Ο Εισαγγελέας διέταξε προκαταρκτική εξέταση η οποία ξεκίνησε με παράσταση πολιτικής αγωγής της Andrea Gilbert στις 27 Μαρτίου 2006, που πρότεινε ως μάρτυρες μεταξύ άλλων τα στελέχη του ΚΙΣ τα οποία κατέθεσαν στις 29 Μαρτίου 2006 δήλωση παράστασης πολιτικής αγωγής. Η υπόθεση είχε «ξεχαστεί» στα γραφεία κάποιου εισαγγελέα και ολοκληρώθηκε μόλις την παραμονή της 18μηνης παραγραφής, στις 11 Σεπτεμβρίου 2007, με κλήση των κατηγορουμένων.

14 Σχόλια to “Greek newspaper condemned on racist remarks (!)”

  1. I won’t argue you on the main part, since it’s obvious we’re worlds apart on this. Perhaps i will be next to be sued by the GHM.

    But how can you call «scandalous» a far more technical matter, like if there is a person that has directly suffered from the supposed harm made by the perpetrator? Aren’t lawyers more suited to comment on this? Do you know that there is scientific debate on matters as this and that they we don’t just get rid of them with words such as «scandalous» but actually try to form coherent arguments?

    Here’s some consequences i bet you haven’t considered:

    a. if all members of the afflicted group have a civil suit and can take it to the criminal court, that would mean that the next time a case by this anti-free speech law is made, some millions of people, from Woody Allen to that Berezofsky guy, will have the right to appear in court with a lawyer and ask for their 44 euros. Does that make sense to you?

    b. if all members of the afflicted group have suffered just because they belong to it, they same must apply when someone says «all lawyers are scum of the earth», concerning the crime of art. 361 of the Criminal Code. But Areios Pagos has insisted that that is not the case. Who’s right on this one? Will i ever be able to sue for thousands of euros every person who thinks bad of lawyers?

  2. Abravanel said

    First, journalists are the scum of the earth and not lawyers. lol

    Plevris didn’t say jews are the bad guys, go into every single bookshop and you’ll find hundred of books saying similar stuff. The difference is that Plevris advocated the physical elimination of the jews and encouraged violence against them. Therefore I, personally, was afflicted because I was the object of this attack. This is not about free speech.

    What’s the difference between jews and lawyers in any case? Jews are the object of discrimination and attacks because of their per se nature of being jews. Lawyers are not. Plus there are definite practical reasons which make advocating violence towards jews/ immigrants a much more practical issue than advocating violence against lawyers.

    By the way since your’re so keen on lecturing Ι must admit that I’m thrilled that on one hand you advocate freedom of hate for Plevris, but then you’re ready to deny me the right to comment on a court decision!

    Still I’d like you to thank you for you patronizing me and respectfully try to form coherent thoughts as you oh so wisely advised me. And don’t worry, I’ll tell GHM not to sue you because I like you.

    PS. By the way the European Court of Human Rights has already sentenced that «prison sentences for press offenses are incompatible with the freedom of press, except in extreme cases where other fundemental rights are being violated like in the case of publishing hate speech or incitement to violence».

    «Το Δικαστήριο θεωρεί πως μια ποινή φυλάκισης για αδίκημα δια του τύπου είναι ασυμβίβαστη με την ελευθερία της δημοσιογραφικής έκφρασης, που εγγυάται το άρθρο 10 της Σύμβασης, εκτός από εξαιρετικές περιπτώσεις, ειδικότερα όταν υπάρχουν σοβαρές παραβιάσεις άλλων θεμελιωδών δικαιωμάτων, όπως στην υπόθεση για παράδειγμα της δημοσίευσης ρητορικής μίσους ή προτροπής σε βία. Επιπλέον, η φήμη του [θιγόμενου από το δημοσίευμα] δικαστή μπορεί να προστατευθεί μέσω του αστικού δικαίου – άλλωστε εκκρεμούν αγωγές αποζημίωσης κατά της προσφεύγουσας». http://cm.greekhelsinki.gr/index.php?sec=192&cid=3209
    http://cmiskp.echr.coe.int/tkp197/view.asp?action=html&documentId=826673&portal=hbkm&source=externalbydocnumber&table=F69A27FD8FB86142BF01C1166DEA398649

    But I’m sure you were already aware of this.

  3. Kat said

    Didn’t you know, Abravanel? Freedom of hate is perfectly OK, but freedom of speech in the form of opinions is not. Pfft! Sad.

  4. Abravanel, you couldn’t answer the argument about the civil part, you confused the violations of N. 927/79 with art. 361, so you tried to attack me as a supporter of hate. Let it be.

    I don’t deny anybody anything if it’s just the expression of thoughts, it’s you who wants journalists behind bars. Yes, freedom to hate, freedom to love, whatever. Cogitationis poenam nemo patitur. I won’t need your intervention with the GHM, i’m thinking seriously to publish a provocative article and send it to the prosecutor. Let’s see what happens then.

  5. Actually, freedom of speech is restricted by hate speech or incitement to violence. Freedom of speech is the freedom to express your opinions whatever they might be. Hate speech and incitement to violence is something different and is also covered by law. Hate speech and incitement to violence is a call for generalised groups of people, specific groups of people, or individuals to be abused or killed.

  6. Panayote Dimitras - GHM said

    Abravanel

    Pls get the facts right about civil claimants. KIS was not planning to file for that status and they were pressuring GHM not to file either and also not to go through with the appeal against the expulsion of civil claimants in the Plevris trial.

    But we did insist on both and after the court ruled that we will be civil claimants («we» means GHM’s Andrea Gilbert)KIS lawyers rushed to join as well after overcoming their shock. I do not think they believed that the EK persons would be convicted either and this is why they kept the whole issue secret from their members – and they have not issued anything afterwards.

    As for the other comments here, let me just say that we got the civil claimant status after we field a detailed memo with Greek and European Court case law supporting the request. The memo included a case where for a statement that all police officers cover up some crime, individual police officers were accepted as the civil claimants and the journalists in Crete convicted. Not to mention the so many cases of accepting that an individual Christian can be offended by a book that may be offending the religion and thus reviewing that Christian’s civil action to have the book banned.

  7. Panayote Dimitras - GHM said

    one more thing – our release exists also in English at:
    http://cm.greekhelsinki.gr/index.php?sec=194&cid=3253

  8. Abravanel said

    I won’t need your intervention with the GHM, i’m thinking seriously to publish a provocative article and send it to the prosecutor. Let’s see what happens then.

    I was joking on this one but I’m glad for your courage.

    Anyway I repeat myself: when somebody incites to violence then it seizes to be a generic insult but becomes a specific threat aimed at me. This in my eyes fully justifies the civil action by part of the injured party. In this case the incitement to violence isn’t just thin air but can actually bring harm to members of the Jewish Community. Also the specific nature of the targets, people of different religion/color etc is deemed of special importance by the legislator – ergo, (see, I can use latin too!), and you cannot compare it to lawyers.

    By the way please re-read the point b in your first comment and then tell me that yourself isn’t mingling together the civil action issue with the issue of the freedom of speech. Tsk, tsk…

    Didn’t you know, Abravanel? Freedom of hate is perfectly OK, but freedom of speech in the form of opinions is not. Pfft! Sad

    It always amazes that in Greece we’re ready to accuse the US of double-measures but we’re so keen to adopt them ourselves when it is convenient…

    Actually, freedom of speech is restricted by hate speech or incitement to violence.

    Indeed it is DD and more I re-read the sentence, more I become convinced that it’s of a much greater importance than we think it is!

    KIS was not planning to file for that status and they were pressuring GHM not to file either and also not to go through with the appeal against the expulsion of civil claimants in the Plevris trial.

    I know, I know… If I was in favor of such policies do you think I’d have began blogging? I’m planning to write on this one but I need to do much thinking before I go knocking this wasp’s hive.

  9. Panayote Dimitras - GHM said

    Council of Europe Deputy Secretary General speaks out on controversial Dutch film

    Strasbourg, 12.03.2008 – Speaking at the British Council’s «Living Together» summit in London this afternoon, the Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Maud de-Boer Buquicchio, warned against the expected release of a controversial film on Islam by Dutch politician Geerd Wilders.

    «The European Court of Human Rights has, in the past, endorsed restrictions to the freedom of expression in order to protect religious beliefs against gratuitous insult. The religion in question was a Christian faith. I am not taking a position on whether the film by Mr Wilders should be banned, but I believe that people should be entitled to the same respect of their religious beliefs, regardless of whether they are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist or belong to any other faith,» she said.

    «Furthermore, freedom of expression should not be considered a licence to offend. Apart from the debate about whether a film gratuitously offending and humiliating our citizens of Muslim religion should be banned or not, we can certainly discuss political and moral personal responsibility for such an act. When it involves someone holding a public office, this responsibility is of course even bigger,» added the Deputy Secretary General.

  10. Αθ. Αναγνωστόπουλος said

    Sorry for the delayed response.

    Panayote,

    «The memo included a case where for a statement that all police officers cover up some crime, individual police officers were accepted as the civil claimants and the journalists in Crete convicted. Not to mention the so many cases of accepting that an individual Christian can be offended by a book that may be offending the religion and thus reviewing that Christian’s civil action to have the book banned».

    Were you happy about those cases? Do you think they were just? Do you think they were in accordance with Άρειος Πάγος on this? Or were you just exploiting some bad decisions just because they happened to suit your short term interests? (nothing especially bad about that, we do it all the time)

    Abravanel and DD, i don’t want to argue on the main part, whether L. 927/79 is just or not. It would be like discussing the death penalty with the mother of the murdered. I’ve written a paper on this law, i have my arguments, perhaps i will present them some time. Just don’t take for granted that incitement to violence wasn’t prohibited before this unfortunate law.

  11. Abravanel said

    The anti-racism law 927/79 can go and kill itself for all I care – what is important to me is that when a public figure with a big audience like Plevris says something in the lines «let’s hope that somebody annihilates the jews» and there is a real danger that somebody get’s incited to performing violent acts, then the law will kick in.

    And may I add something else? For jews it’s relatively easy if you compare them to what the roma must go through. So I think I’ll play it safe and stick to the law which proved worthy of it’s name, contrary to the previous legislation.

  12. Ignorants can claim anything they want about a law that does not suit them. So do the fascists btw.

    Law 927/79 has been introduced in implementation of UN’s ICERD and in particular Article 4. Under Article 4 of ICERD, States Parties are obligated to punish «all dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred, incitement to racial discrimination, as well as all acts of violence or incitement to such acts against any race or group of persons of another colour or ethnic origin.»

    Also under ICCPR’s Article 20 «1. Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law. 2. Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.»

    Finally, the EU Racial Equality Directive have a similar provision in Article 2 (see below). It has become Law 3304/2005 in Greece.

    Article 2

    Concept of discrimination

    1. For the purposes of this Directive, the principle of equal treatment shall mean that there shall be no direct or indirect discrimination based on racial or ethnic origin.

    2. For the purposes of paragraph 1:

    (a) direct discrimination shall be taken to occur where one person is treated less favourably than another is, has been or would be treated in a comparable situation on grounds of racial or ethnic origin;

    (b) indirect discrimination shall be taken to occur where an apparently neutral provision, criterion or practice would put persons of a racial or ethnic origin at a particular disadvantage compared with other persons, unless that provision, criterion or practice is objectively justified by a legitimate aim and the means of achieving that aim are appropriate and necessary.

    3. Harassment shall be deemed to be discrimination within the meaning of paragraph 1, when an unwanted conduct related to racial or ethnic origin takes place with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person and of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. In this context, the concept of harassment may be defined in accordance with the national laws and practice of the Member States.

    4. An instruction to discriminate against persons on grounds of racial or ethnic origin shall be deemed to be discrimination within the meaning of paragraph 1.

    Obviously in Greece alone there are so many like Athanassios here who advocate lawlessness and the absence of protection of the weak – because none of them had advocated in any text the abolition of similar general articles on defamation and incitement to violence. And they also consider that case law that does not suit their views should not be used, as the international treaties should be ignored.

  13. Kat said

    http://edition.cnn.com/2008/US/03/14/anti-semitism/index.html?imw=Y&iref=mpstoryemail

  14. Abravanel said

    Unfortunately you’re correct in pinpointing the link and while certainly I’m not afraid of neo-nazis coming to power, I am deeply troubled by the silence of the society towards phenomena like the desecration of monuments by leftist organizations or the silence on the neonazi Plevris trial.

    Quoting from Kat’s link…

    It says that although Nazism and fascism are rejected by the West «and beyond,» blatant forms of anti-Semitism are «embraced and employed by the extreme fringe.»

    «Traditional forms of anti-Semitism persist and can be found across the globe. Classic anti-Semitic screeds, such as ‘The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion’ and ‘Mein Kampf’ remain commonplace.

    «Jews continue to be accused of blood libel, dual loyalty, and undue influence on government policy and the media, and the symbols and images associated with age-old forms of anti-Semitism endure.»

    New forms of anti-Semitism are reflected in rhetoric that compares Israel to the Nazis and attributes «Israel’s perceived faults to its Jewish character.»

    This kind of anti-Semitism, the report says, «is common throughout the Middle East and in Muslim communities in Europe, but it is not confined to these populations.»

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