Torture and ill-treatment by police officers in Greece

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Torture and ill-treatment by police officers in Greece

By Panayote Dimitras, Spokesperson, Greek Helsinki Monitor

In mid-August 2002, Georgios Sidiropoulos and Ioannis Papakostas, two youngsters who had never met each other before, were taken to an Athens police station on alleged traffic violations (never subsequently confirmed by the courts). A police officer on duty took them to an office and repeatedly used a taser gun against them, to punish them because they had allegedly resisted arrest. The complaints launched in the following days led to an administrative investigation that concluded that their claims were false as the officer simply had used a wireless . A criminal investigation which after several years led to the only trial in Greece where a police officer was irrevocably convicted for torture – a full 12 years after the eents, in 2014 . The sentence was a mere 5 years converted into the minimum fine possible of 5 euros per day. The officer convicted for torture did not spend even one day in detention or in prison.

 

  Source: Panayote Dimitras

Source: Panayote Dimitras

 

In January 2018 the European Court of Human Rights found Greece in violation of Articles 3, 6.1 and 13 of the Convention. In particular, the Court found that “the criminal and disciplinary system had proved to be seriously lacking in rigour and incapable of having a deterrent effect to ensure the effective prevention of illegal acts such as torture.”

This was the most recent of the thirteen cases in the Makaratzis group, concerning impunity for the use of potentially lethal force; ill-treatment sometimes amounting to torture; absence of effective administrative and criminal investigations; inadequate criminal proceedings and penalties; and in some cases a failure to investigate possible racist motives. The leading case (the shooting of Christos Makaratzis) dates from 1995

The Committee of Ministers had confined its three examinations of the execution of these cases in 2012, 2015 and 2017 to welcoming the information provided by Greece on the modernization of the law on the use of arms, the establishment of an office to review the related complaints, and the possible reopening of the cases adjudicated by the ECtHR. Three written submissions from the Greek Helsinki Monitor and one from REDRESS highlighted the ineffectiveness of the Greek state’s response. These were followed by an oral briefing to CM representatives by GHM in November 2018. In December 2018, for the first time, the CM issues a very strong decision seeking a detailed set of information from Greece by September 2019

Greece is now obliged to provide documented information about the effectiveness of the Ombudsman as an Independent Complaints Mechanism. This relates not only to the reopening of investigations in old cases, but also to reviewing new complaints that, as GHM has noted, number in the hundreds. Greece must also amend its legislation to bring the definition of torture in line with international standards and prevent the conversions of imprisonment imposed for torture and other ill-treatment into fines. The state must also provide information on the investigation of possible racist motives when ill-treatment occurs in the context of law enforcement; and, finally, implement its commitment to issue written apologies to the victims.

This decision is a powerful weapon in view of the CPT visit to Greece in 2019, the review of Greece by UN CAT in July-August 2019, and the probable new review of the Makaratzis case by the CM in December 2019. The Greek Helsinki Monitor will seek to capitalise on this decision, by seeking the apologies promised from the authorities; pressing the Ombudsman to conclude at least some of the hundreds of the investigations it has been carrying out since mid-2017 so as to assess their effectiveness; and review the proposed amendments to the criminal code announced by the government so as to assess if they are up to the standards defined by ECtHR, CM, CPT, and CAT. These institutions will be kept closely informed of developments.

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Ευρωκόλαφος για ανεκτέλεστες αποφάσεις ΕΔΔΑ για βία αστυνομικών – λιμενικών και απαγόρευση τουρκικών ενώσεων

Το Ελληνικό Παρατηρητήριο των Συμφωνιών του Ελσίνκι (ΕΠΣΕ) καλεί κυβέρνηση, κόμματα και πλειοψηφία ΜΜΕ και κοινωνίας πολιτών, αντί να πανηγυρίζουν κατά τη σημερινή Παγκόσμια Ημέρα Ανθρώπινων Δικαιωμάτων, να σκύψουν πάνω στις αυστηρές έως ταπεινωτικές για την Ελλάδα συνολικά αποφάσεις της Επιτροπής Υπουργών του Συμβουλίου της Ευρώπης που πάρθηκαν την περασμένη εβδομάδα για την πάνω από δεκαετία μη συμμόρφωση με σωρεία καταδικαστικών αποφάσεων του Ευρωπαϊκού Δικαστηρίου Δικαιωμάτων του Ανθρώπου (ΕΔΔΑ) που αφορούν ατιμωρησία αστυνομικών και λιμενικών που έκαναν βασανιστήρια ή κακομεταχείριση και διάλυση ή άρνηση εγγραφής τουρκικών μειονοτικών ενώσεων. Τα πλήρη κείμενα των αποφάσεων της 6 Δεκεμβρίου 2018 (που αποσιώπησαν ΟΛΑ τα ΜΜΕ) ακολουθούν σε μετάφραση του ΕΠΣΕ το οποίο με συνεχείς τεκμηριωμένες παρεμβάσεις του έπαιξε καθοριστικό ρόλο στη διαμόρφωση των αποφάσεων αυτών. Οι παρεμβάσεις του ΕΠΣΕ και οι αποφάσεις της ΕΥ είναι διαθέσιμες στις ιστοσελίδες:

https://greekhelsinki.wordpress.com/tag/makaratzis/
http://hudoc.exec.coe.int/ENG?i=004-15563 (σχετική ιστοσελίδα Επιτροπής Υπουργών)

https://greekhelsinki.wordpress.com/tag/bekir-ousta-and-others/
http://hudoc.exec.coe.int/ENG?i=004-15568 (σχετική ιστοσελίδα Επιτροπής Υπουργών)

1. Ατιμωρησία αστυνομικών και λιμενικών για χρήση βίας

  • Η Ελλάδα ελέγχεται γιατί έχει σύντομες προθεσμίες παραγραφής αδικημάτων για βασανιστήρια και κακομεταχείριση και έτσι δεν μπορεί να επανεξετάσει τις υποθέσεις που οδήγησαν σε καταδίκες από το ΕΔΔΑ, πλην της μόνης για την οποία υπάρχει καταδίκη από ελληνικά δικαστήρια για βασανιστήρια που δεν έχουν παραγραφή (υπόθεση Σιδηρόπουλου – Παπακώστα για βασανιστήρια με ηλεκτροσόκ το 2002).
  • Ζητείται από την Ελλάδα ενημέρωση για το αν παρέμειναν στην υπηρεσία οι αστυνομικοί και οι λιμενικοί δράστες των βασανιστηρίων και της κακομεταχείρισης στις 13 υποθέσεις που οδήγησαν σε καταδικαστικές αποφάσεις από το ΕΔΔΑ (για 9 από αυτές οι προσφυγές έγιναν από το ΕΠΣΕ).
  • Χαιρετίζεται η πρόθεση της κυβέρνησης να ζητηθεί συγγνώμη από τα θύματα βασανιστηρίων και κακομεταχείρισης και αναμένεται η υλοποίησή της.
  • Ζητείται ενημέρωση για την αποτελεσματικότητα του Συνηγόρου του Πολίτη ως νέου μηχανισμού διερεύνησης των σχετικών καταγγελιών καθώς και για τον αντίκτυπο της εισαγωγής του ρατσιστικού κινήτρου στη διερεύνηση αυτών των υποθέσεων.
  • Ζητείται ενημέρωση για τα μέτρα για την ευθυγράμμιση του ορισμού των βασανιστηρίων με τις διεθνείς συμβάσεις και για την αφαίρεση της δυνατότητας μετατροπής ποινών φυλάκισης που επιβάλλονται για βασανιστήρια και άλλες μορφές κακομεταχείρισης σε πρόστιμα.

2. Απαγόρευση λειτουργίας τουρκικών μειονοτικών ενώσεων

  • Εκφράζεται λύπη για τη συνεχιζόμενη απαγόρευση λειτουργίας τουρκικών μειονοτικών ενώσεων και τη συνεχιζόμενη άρνηση συμμόρφωσης με τις αποφάσεις του ΕΔΔΑ ακόμα και μετά την εισαγωγή νομοθεσίας για την επανεξέταση των υποθέσεων αυτών που αγνόησε το Εφετείο Θράκης αρνούμενο την άρση διάλυσης της Τουρκικής Ένωσης Ξάνθης.
  • Εκφράζεται βαθιά λύπη γιατί, περιφρονώντας τη νομολογία του ΕΔΔΑ, τα ελληνικά δικαστήρια μέχρι και τον Άρειο Πάγο το 2017 αρνήθηκαν την εγγραφή του Πολιτιστικού Συλλόγου Τούρκων Γυναικών Νομού Ξάνθης.
  • Καλείται η Ελλάδα να φροντίσει ώστε να αποφασίζει για τα θέματα αυτά η δικαιοσύνη σεβόμενη την Ευρωπαϊκή Σύμβαση Δικαιωμάτων του Ανθρώπου (ΕΣΔΑ) και τις αποφάσεις του ΕΔΔΑ και για το λόγο αυτό να προχωρήσει και σε κατάρτιση των δικαστών στην ΕΣΔΑ και στην υποχρέωση συμμόρφωσης με τις αποφάσεις του ΕΔΔΑ.
  • Λόγω της σοβαρότητας της υπόθεσης αποφασίστηκε να επανεξετασθεί η συμμόρφωση της Ελλάδας κατεπειγόντως το Σεπτέμβριο 2019.

Συμβούλιο της Ευρώπης – Απόφαση Επιτροπής Υπουργών: Επίβλεψη εκτέλεσης αποφάσεων ΕΔΔΑ Μακαρατζής κτλ. κατά Ελλάδας (βία αστυνομικών – λιμενικών)


ΕΠΙΤΡΟΠΗ ΥΠΟΥΡΓΩΝ ΤΟΥ ΣΥΜΒΟΥΛΙΟΥ ΤΗΣ ΕΥΡΩΠΗΣ

ΑΝΑΠΛΗΡΩΤΕΣ ΥΠΟΥΡΓΩΝ

Αποφάσεις

CM/Del/Δεκ(2018)1331/H46-13

6 Δεκεμβρίου 2018

1331η συνεδρίαση, 4-6 Δεκεμβρίου 2018 (ΑΔ)

H46-12 Ομάδα αποφάσεων Μακαρατζής κ.λπ. κατά Ελλάδας
(Προσφυγές υπ’ αριθ. 50385/99 κτλ.)

Επίβλεψη της εκτέλεσης των αποφάσεων του Ευρωπαϊκού Δικαστηρίου

Αποφάσεις

Οι Αναπληρωτές

1. υπενθυμίζοντας ότι αυτές οι υποθέσεις αφορούν τη χρήση δυνητικά θανατηφόρας βίας και κακομεταχείρισης από όργανα επιβολής του νόμου καθώς και την έλλειψη αποτελεσματικών ερευνών ικανών να οδηγήσουν σε επαρκείς πειθαρχικές και ποινικές κυρώσεις·

Όσον αφορά τα ατομικά μέτρα

2. υπενθυμίζουν με λύπη ότι, λόγω των ισχυόντων κανόνων παραγραφής, δεν είναι δυνατή η επανεξέταση υπερβολικά επιεικών καταδικαστικών αποφάσεων ή αναποτελεσματικών ποινικών ανακρίσεων (ειδικότερα της πρόσφατης υπόθεσης Andersen).

3. εκφράζουν επίσης τη λύπη τους για το γεγονός ότι στην υπόθεση Zontul, λόγω της τότε ισχύουσας ελληνικής νομοθεσίας, η επανεξέταση της ποινικής καταδίκης των λιμενικών υπεύθυνων για προσβολή της σεξουαλικής αξιοπρέπειας δεν θα επέτρεπε να ληφθεί υπόψη η διαπίστωση του Ευρωπαϊκού Δικαστηρίου ότι τα γεγονότα αποτελούσαν βασανιστήρια κατά την έννοια του άρθρου 3 της Σύμβασης, καθώς στην έννοια των βασανιστηρίων στην ελληνική νομοθεσία δεν περιλαμβάνονταν τα πραγματικά περιστατικά της υπόθεσης· σημείωσαν ωστόσο με ικανοποίηση την απόφαση του Συνήγορου του Πολίτη να επαναλάβει τις πειθαρχικές έρευνες σχετικά με τις συνέπειες των εν λόγω πράξεων·

4. εξέφρασαν τη λύπη τους για το γεγονός ότι σε όλες τις περιπτώσεις – εκτός από εκείνες των Σιδηρόπουλου – Παπακώστα και Andersen – η επανάληψη των πειθαρχικών ερευνών δεν ήταν δυνατή λόγω του ότι τα αδικήματα είχαν παραγραφεί·

5. κάλεσαν τις αρχές να ενημερώσουν την Επιτροπή μέχρι την 1η Σεπτεμβρίου 2019 για την επανεξέταση των πειθαρχικών ερευνών σχετικά με τις υποθέσεις Σιδηρόπουλου – Παπακώστα και Andersen·

6. επισημαίνοντας επίσης την ιδιαίτερη πολυπλοκότητα του ζητήματος παραγραφής στην υπόθεση Zontul, κάλεσαν τις αρχές να υποβάλουν στην Επιτροπή έως την 1η Σεπτεμβρίου 2019 τα πλήρη πορίσματα του Λιμενικού Σώματος σχετικά με την επανάληψη της πειθαρχικής διαδικασίας, ιδίως όσον αφορά την παραμονή στην υπηρεσία των υπευθύνων·

7. χαιρέτισαν την πρόθεση των αρχών να ζητήσουν από τους επικεφαλής των υπηρεσιών που εμπλέκονται σε βασανιστήρια και άλλες μορφές κακομεταχείρισης να ζητήσουν γραπτή συγγνώμη από τους προσφεύγοντες· κάλεσαν τις αρχές να ενημερώσουν την Επιτροπή μέχρι την 1η Σεπτεμβρίου 2019 για οποιαδήποτε περαιτέρω εξέλιξη·

Όσον αφορά τα γενικά μέτρα

8. κάλεσαν τις αρχές να εντείνουν τις συνεχιζόμενες προσπάθειές τους για την εξάλειψη όλων των μορφών κακομεταχείρισης από τα όργανα επιβολής του νόμου, λαμβάνοντας δεόντως υπόψη τις συστάσεις της CPT και τις κάλεσαν να παράσχουν στην Επιτροπή συγκεκριμένες και λεπτομερείς πληροφορίες σχετικά με τα ληφθέντα ή προβλεπόμενα μέτρα σε απάντηση στις αποφάσεις του Ευρωπαϊκού Δικαστηρίου στις υποθέσεις αυτές·

9. όσον αφορά την αποτελεσματικότητα των ερευνών, κάλεσαν τις αρχές να υποβάλουν έως την 1η Σεπτεμβρίου 2019 λεπτομερείς πληροφορίες σχετικά με τα ακόλουθα θέματα:

α) την αναστολή της παραγραφής για αξιόποινες πράξεις που σχετίζονται με παραβάσεις παρόμοιες με εκείνες στις υπό κρίση υποθέσεις·

β) τη γενική δυνατότητα επανέναρξης πειθαρχικών ερευνών σε περιπτώσεις όπου έχει ήδη αποφασισθεί ποινική ή πειθαρχική ευθύνη, λαμβανομένης υπόψη της αρχής ne bis in idem που κατοχυρώνεται στον νόμο 4443/2016·

γ) την αποτελεσματικότητα του νέου μηχανισμού καταγγελίας (Συνηγόρου του Πολίτη), ιδίως υπό το πρίσμα των αποτελεσμάτων των ερευνών επί των καταγγελιών που υποβλήθηκαν μετά την έναρξη λειτουργίας του μηχανισμού στις 9 Ιουνίου 2017·

δ) τον αντίκτυπο της νέας ενισχυμένης νομοθετικής προστασίας κατά του ρατσιστικού εγκλήματος και τα ενδεχόμενα νέα μέτρα που προβλέπονται για τη διασφάλιση της διερεύνησης πιθανών ρατσιστικών κινήτρων όταν παρουσιάζεται κακομεταχείριση στο πλαίσιο της επιβολής του νόμου·

ε) το κατά πόσον οι αποφάσεις για την περάτωση ποινικών ανακρίσεων λόγω παραγραφής μπορούν να υποβληθούν σε δικαστική ή άλλη ανεξάρτητη επανεξέταση·

στ) τα μέτρα που ελήφθησαν ή σχεδιάστηκαν στο πλαίσιο της τρέχουσας αναθεώρησης του Ποινικού Κώδικα, προκειμένου να ευθυγραμμιστεί πλήρως η διεξαγωγή των ποινικών ανακρίσεων σε περιπτώσεις κακομεταχείρισης και οι σχετικές κυρώσεις με τις απαιτήσεις της νομολογίας του Δικαστηρίου, ιδίως όσον αφορά τον ορισμό των βασανιστηρίων και τις δυνατότητες μετατροπής ποινών φυλάκισης που επιβάλλονται για βασανιστήρια και άλλες μορφές κακομεταχείρισης σε ποινές μη στερητικές της ελευθερίας.

[Μετάφραση στα ελληνικά από το Ελληνικό Παρατηρητήριο των Συμφωνιών του Ελσίνκι (ΕΠΣΕ) από το αγγλικό πρωτότυπο διαθέσιμο εδώ] 


 

Συμβούλιο της Ευρώπης – Απόφαση Επιτροπής Υπουργών: Επίβλεψη εκτέλεσης αποφάσεων ΕΔΔΑ Bekir-Ousta κτλ. κατά Ελλάδας (τουρκικές ενώσεις)


ΕΠΙΤΡΟΠΗ ΥΠΟΥΡΓΩΝ ΤΟΥ ΣΥΜΒΟΥΛΙΟΥ ΤΗΣ ΕΥΡΩΠΗΣ

ΑΝΑΠΛΗΡΩΤΕΣ ΥΠΟΥΡΓΩΝ

Αποφάσεις

CM/Del/Δεκ(2018)1331/Η46-12

6 Δεκεμβρίου 2018

1331η συνεδρίαση, 4-6 Δεκεμβρίου 2018 (ΑΔ)

H46-12 Ομάδα αποφάσεων Bekir-Ousta κ.λπ. κατά Ελλάδας
(Προσφυγές υπ’ αριθ. 35151/05 κτλ)

Επίβλεψη της εκτέλεσης των αποφάσεων του Ευρωπαϊκού Δικαστηρίου

 

Αποφάσεις

Οι Αναπληρωτές

1. υπενθυμίζοντας ότι οι υποθέσεις αυτές αφορούν παραβιάσεις του δικαιώματος της ελευθερίας του συνεταιρίζεσθαι λόγω της άρνησης των εθνικών δικαστηρίων να εγκρίνουν ενώσεις και της απόφασης που οδηγεί στη διάλυση ενός σωματείου·

Όσον αφορά τα ατομικά μέτρα

2. εκφράζουν τη λύπη του για το γεγονός ότι, παρά τις προσπάθειες που κατέβαλαν οι αρχές, και ιδίως την τροποποίηση του Κώδικα Πολιτικής Δικονομίας το 2017, δέκα χρόνια μετά την έκδοση των αποφάσεων του Ευρωπαϊκού Δικαστηρίου, δύο από τις ενώσεις αυτές παραμένουν χωρίς έγκριση και μία διαλυμένη.

3. υπενθυμίζοντας ότι η υποχρέωση ενός συμβαλλομένου κράτους βάσει του άρθρου 46 της Σύμβασης να συμμορφώνεται πλήρως και αποτελεσματικά με τις αποφάσεις του Δικαστηρίου εκτείνεται στην ερμηνεία της εσωτερικής νομοθεσίας από τα εθνικά δικαστήρια, σημείωσαν την πρόσφατη απόφαση του Εφετείου Θράκης που απορρίπτει για διαδικαστικούς λόγους την αίτηση επανεξέτασης της απόφασης διάλυσης μιας από τις αιτούσες ενώσεις· σημείωσαν ωστόσο ότι έχει ασκηθεί προσφυγή κατά της απόφασης αυτής και ότι εκκρεμεί ενώπιον του Αρείου Πάγου·

4. κάλεσαν τις αρχές να λάβουν γρήγορα όλα τα αναγκαία μέτρα ώστε οι υποθέσεις των αιτουσών να εξετάζονται από τα εθνικά δικαστήρια σε πλήρη και ουσιαστική συμμόρφωση με το άρθρο 11 της Σύμβασης και τις αποφάσεις του Ευρωπαϊκού Δικαστηρίου και να ενημερώνεται η Επιτροπή για όλες τις σχετικές εξελίξεις .

5. κάλεσαν τις αρχές να παρέχουν τακτικά πληροφορίες σχετικά με τις περαιτέρω εξελίξεις σε όλες τις εν εξελίξει διαδικασίες σχετικά με αυτήν την ομάδα υποθέσεων ·

Όσον αφορά τα γενικά μέτρα

6. σημείωσαν με βαθιά λύπη ότι η εγγραφή άλλης ένωσης στην περιοχή της Θράκης απορρίφθηκε το 2017 με τελική απόφαση του Αρείου Πάγου για λόγους που ήδη επικρίθηκαν από το Ευρωπαϊκό Δικαστήριο στις αποφάσεις του του 2008 σχετικά με τις παρούσες υποθέσεις ·

7. παροτρύνουν επομένως τις αρχές να λάβουν πρόσθετα μέτρα, όπως η ευρεία διάδοση της νομολογίας του Δικαστηρίου και η συστηματική κατάρτιση των εθνικών δικαστών σε όλα τα επίπεδα, προκειμένου να διασφαλιστεί ότι τα εθνικά δικαστήρια λαμβάνουν αποφάσεις σχετικά με την εγγραφή ή τη διάλυση ενώσεων εναρμονισμένα πλήρως και αποτελεσματικά με τη νομολογία του Δικαστηρίου και να ενημερώνουν την Επιτροπή για περαιτέρω εξελίξεις ·

8. αποφάσισαν να επαναλάβουν την εξέταση αυτής της ομάδας υποθέσεων κατά την πρώτη συνεδρίαση μετά την έκδοση της απόφασης του Αρείου Πάγου σε απάντηση της προαναφερθείσας προσφυγής που υπέβαλε μία από τις αιτούσες ενώσεις ή κατά την 1354η συνεδρίασή της (Σεπτέμβριος 2019) (DH) το αργότερο.

[Μετάφραση στα ελληνικά από το Ελληνικό Παρατηρητήριο των Συμφωνιών του Ελσίνκι (ΕΠΣΕ) από το αγγλικό πρωτότυπο διαθέσιμο εδώ


 

Council of Europe: Torture reform needed in Greece

20181207_222634

Necati Zontul

Council of Europe: Torture reform needed in Greece

The Council of Europe has re-emphasised the need for Greece to improve its law and practice on the prosecution of torture. In a decision issued on 6 December 2018, the Committee of Ministers increased the pressure on Greece to implement the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights in Zontul v Greece and several other cases.

The required reforms would provide greater access to justice for the victims of torture and ill-treatment in Greece, particularly migrants and refugees. Greece is a major point of entry for those trying to reach Europe.

The decision also noted the welcome news that the Greek government will seek to apologise formally to the victims of torture and ill-treatment.

In 2001, Necati Zontul, a Turkish man, was travelling on a boat with other migrants when he was intercepted by Greek coastguards. The coastguards then detained the passengers in a disused school in Crete. A week into Necati’s detention a coastguard trapped him in a toilet and raped him with a truncheon, while another guard kept lookout.

Following a flawed domestic investigation and prosecution of the Coastguard officers responsible for his treatment, REDRESS helped Necati to bring a case against Greece at the European Court of Human Rights.

The ECHR heavily criticised the Greek authorities for their internal investigation of the incident, in which they falsified Necati’s evidence, and for the lenient penalty imposed on the perpetrator of the rape – a suspended sentence commuted to a small fine.

The ECHR found in favour of Necati in 2012, recognising that rape can be a particularly cruel form of torture, and that Greece did not adequately punish the perpetrators or afford redress to Necati. It concluded that Greece had breached Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case also found that Greek law was incompatible with the country’s international obligations to prevent and prosecute torture.

The Council of Europe’s decision

In October 2018 REDRESS filed a submission with the Committee of Ministers, the body responsible for supervising the implementation of European Court of Human Rights’ decisions. The submission addressed Greece’s failure to implement the 2012 judgment.

The decision issued by the Committee of Ministers on 6 December 2018 called upon the Greek authorities “to intensify their ongoing efforts to eradicate all forms of ill-treatment by law enforcement officials”.

It made detailed requests to the Greek Government that reinforced a number of the reforms needed, in particular that Greece should:

  • ensure the effectiveness of investigations into torture;
  • reform its law on torture to make it compatible with Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights; and
  • ensure that sanctions for torture and ill-treatment in Greece are sufficiently punitive.

Charlie Loudon, REDRESS’ International Legal Adviser, said:

“These reforms are necessary to ensure that no others are subjected to the same torture that Necati had to suffer, and that those responsible for the torture of Necati and others are held to account for their actions. Greece must demonstrate that it is complying with the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights and that it is meeting its obligations under international law.”

The Council of Europe’s decision is available here.

REDRESS’s submission to the Committee of Ministers is available here.

More information about Necati’s case can be found here.

Συμβούλιο της Ευρώπης – Απόφαση Επιτροπής Υπουργών: Επίβλεψη εκτέλεσης αποφάσεων ΕΔΔΑ Μακαρατζής κτλ. κατά Ελλάδας (βία αστυνομικών – λιμενικών)

ΕΠΙΤΡΟΠΗ ΥΠΟΥΡΓΩΝ ΤΟΥ ΣΥΜΒΟΥΛΙΟΥ ΤΗΣ ΕΥΡΩΠΗΣ

ΑΝΑΠΛΗΡΩΤΕΣ ΥΠΟΥΡΓΩΝ

Αποφάσεις

CM/Del/Δεκ(2018)1331/H46-13

6 Δεκεμβρίου 2018

1331η συνεδρίαση, 4-6 Δεκεμβρίου 2018 (ΑΔ)

H46-12 Ομάδα αποφάσεων Μακαρατζής κ.λπ. κατά Ελλάδας
(Προσφυγές υπ’ αριθ. 50385/99 κτλ.)

Επίβλεψη της εκτέλεσης των αποφάσεων του Ευρωπαϊκού Δικαστηρίου

Αποφάσεις

Οι Αναπληρωτές

1. υπενθυμίζοντας ότι αυτές οι υποθέσεις αφορούν τη χρήση δυνητικά θανατηφόρας βίας και κακομεταχείρισης από όργανα επιβολής του νόμου καθώς και την έλλειψη αποτελεσματικών ερευνών ικανών να οδηγήσουν σε επαρκείς πειθαρχικές και ποινικές κυρώσεις·

Όσον αφορά τα ατομικά μέτρα

2. υπενθυμίζουν με λύπη ότι, λόγω των ισχυόντων κανόνων παραγραφής, δεν είναι δυνατή η επανεξέταση υπερβολικά επιεικών καταδικαστικών αποφάσεων ή αναποτελεσματικών ποινικών ανακρίσεων (ειδικότερα της πρόσφατης υπόθεσης Andersen).

3. εκφράζουν επίσης τη λύπη τους για το γεγονός ότι στην υπόθεση Zontul, λόγω της τότε ισχύουσας ελληνικής νομοθεσίας, η επανεξέταση της ποινικής καταδίκης των λιμενικών υπεύθυνων για προσβολή της σεξουαλικής αξιοπρέπειας δεν θα επέτρεπε να ληφθεί υπόψη η διαπίστωση του Ευρωπαϊκού Δικαστηρίου ότι τα γεγονότα αποτελούσαν βασανιστήρια κατά την έννοια του άρθρου 3 της Σύμβασης, καθώς στην έννοια των βασανιστηρίων στην ελληνική νομοθεσία δεν περιλαμβάνονταν τα πραγματικά περιστατικά της υπόθεσης· σημείωσαν ωστόσο με ικανοποίηση την απόφαση του Συνήγορου του Πολίτη να επαναλάβει τις πειθαρχικές έρευνες σχετικά με τις συνέπειες των εν λόγω πράξεων·

4. εξέφρασαν τη λύπη τους για το γεγονός ότι σε όλες τις περιπτώσεις – εκτός από εκείνες των Σιδηρόπουλου – Παπακώστα και Andersen – η επανάληψη των πειθαρχικών ερευνών δεν ήταν δυνατή λόγω του ότι τα αδικήματα είχαν παραγραφεί·

5. κάλεσαν τις αρχές να ενημερώσουν την Επιτροπή μέχρι την 1η Σεπτεμβρίου 2019 για την επανεξέταση των πειθαρχικών ερευνών σχετικά με τις υποθέσεις Σιδηρόπουλου – Παπακώστα και Andersen·

6. επισημαίνοντας επίσης την ιδιαίτερη πολυπλοκότητα του ζητήματος παραγραφής στην υπόθεση Zontul, κάλεσαν τις αρχές να υποβάλουν στην Επιτροπή έως την 1η Σεπτεμβρίου 2019 τα πλήρη πορίσματα του Λιμενικού Σώματος σχετικά με την επανάληψη της πειθαρχικής διαδικασίας, ιδίως όσον αφορά την παραμονή στην υπηρεσία των υπευθύνων·

7. χαιρέτισαν την πρόθεση των αρχών να ζητήσουν από τους επικεφαλής των υπηρεσιών που εμπλέκονται σε βασανιστήρια και άλλες μορφές κακομεταχείρισης να ζητήσουν γραπτή συγγνώμη από τους προσφεύγοντες· κάλεσαν τις αρχές να ενημερώσουν την Επιτροπή μέχρι την 1η Σεπτεμβρίου 2019 για οποιαδήποτε περαιτέρω εξέλιξη·

Όσον αφορά τα γενικά μέτρα

8. κάλεσαν τις αρχές να εντείνουν τις συνεχιζόμενες προσπάθειές τους για την εξάλειψη όλων των μορφών κακομεταχείρισης από τα όργανα επιβολής του νόμου, λαμβάνοντας δεόντως υπόψη τις συστάσεις της CPT και τις κάλεσαν να παράσχουν στην Επιτροπή συγκεκριμένες και λεπτομερείς πληροφορίες σχετικά με τα ληφθέντα ή προβλεπόμενα μέτρα σε απάντηση στις αποφάσεις του Ευρωπαϊκού Δικαστηρίου στις υποθέσεις αυτές·

9. όσον αφορά την αποτελεσματικότητα των ερευνών, κάλεσαν τις αρχές να υποβάλουν έως την 1η Σεπτεμβρίου 2019 λεπτομερείς πληροφορίες σχετικά με τα ακόλουθα θέματα:

α) την αναστολή της παραγραφής για αξιόποινες πράξεις που σχετίζονται με παραβάσεις παρόμοιες με εκείνες στις υπό κρίση υποθέσεις·

β) τη γενική δυνατότητα επανέναρξης πειθαρχικών ερευνών σε περιπτώσεις όπου έχει ήδη αποφασισθεί ποινική ή πειθαρχική ευθύνη, λαμβανομένης υπόψη της αρχής ne bis in idem που κατοχυρώνεται στον νόμο 4443/2016·

γ) την αποτελεσματικότητα του νέου μηχανισμού καταγγελίας (Συνηγόρου του Πολίτη), ιδίως υπό το πρίσμα των αποτελεσμάτων των ερευνών επί των καταγγελιών που υποβλήθηκαν μετά την έναρξη λειτουργίας του μηχανισμού στις 9 Ιουνίου 2017·

δ) τον αντίκτυπο της νέας ενισχυμένης νομοθετικής προστασίας κατά του ρατσιστικού εγκλήματος και τα ενδεχόμενα νέα μέτρα που προβλέπονται για τη διασφάλιση της διερεύνησης πιθανών ρατσιστικών κινήτρων όταν παρουσιάζεται κακομεταχείριση στο πλαίσιο της επιβολής του νόμου·

ε) το κατά πόσον οι αποφάσεις για την περάτωση ποινικών ανακρίσεων λόγω παραγραφής μπορούν να υποβληθούν σε δικαστική ή άλλη ανεξάρτητη επανεξέταση·

στ) τα μέτρα που ελήφθησαν ή σχεδιάστηκαν στο πλαίσιο της τρέχουσας αναθεώρησης του Ποινικού Κώδικα, προκειμένου να ευθυγραμμιστεί πλήρως η διεξαγωγή των ποινικών ανακρίσεων σε περιπτώσεις κακομεταχείρισης και οι σχετικές κυρώσεις με τις απαιτήσεις της νομολογίας του Δικαστηρίου, ιδίως όσον αφορά τον ορισμό των βασανιστηρίων και τις δυνατότητες μετατροπής ποινών φυλάκισης που επιβάλλονται για βασανιστήρια και άλλες μορφές κακομεταχείρισης σε ποινές μη στερητικές της ελευθερίας.

[Μετάφραση στα ελληνικά από το Ελληνικό Παρατηρητήριο των Συμφωνιών του Ελσίνκι (ΕΠΣΕ) από το αγγλικό πρωτότυπο διαθέσιμο εδώ

Council of Europe – Commitee of Ministers’ Decision: Makaratzis group v. Greece

COECM

1331st meeting, 4-6 December 2018 (DH)

 

H46-13 Makaratzis group v. Greece (Application No. 50385/99)

Supervision of the execution of the European Court’s judgments

Reference document

CM/Notes/1331/H46-13

 

Decisions

The Deputies

  1. recalling that these cases concern the use of potentially lethal force and ill-treatment by law enforcement agents as well as the lack of effective investigations capable of leading to adequate disciplinary and criminal sanctions;

As regards individual measures

  1. recalled with regret that as a result of the prescription rules in force the reopening of excessively lenient convictions or of ineffective criminal investigations (notably the recent Andersen case) is not possible;
  2. expressed also regret that in the Zontul case, due to the state of Greek law at the time, a reopening of the criminal conviction of the responsible coast guard for infringement of sexual dignity would not allow to take into account the European Court’s finding that the facts constituted torture within the meaning of Article 3 of the Convention, as the notion of torture in Greek law did not extend to the facts of the case; noted, however, with satisfaction the Ombudsman’s decision to reopen the disciplinary investigations into the consequences of the acts at issue;
  3. expressed regret that in all the cases – apart from Sidiropoulos and Papakostas and Andersen – the reopening of the disciplinary investigations was not possible due to the fact that the offences were subject to prescription;
  4. invited the authorities to inform the Committee by 1 September 2019 about the reopened disciplinary investigations concerning the Sidiropoulos and Papakostas and Andersen cases;
  5. noting also the particular complexity of the prescription question in the Zontul case, invited the authorities to provide the Committee by 1 September 2019  with the full conclusions of the Hellenic Coast Guard concerning the reopening of the disciplinary proceedings, notably as regards the continued employment of those responsible;
  6. welcomed the authorities’ intention to request the heads of the services involved in torture and other forms of ill-treatment to issue written apologies to the applicants; invited the authorities to inform the Committee by 1 September 2019 of any further development;

As regards general measures

  1. called upon the authorities to intensify their ongoing efforts to eradicate all forms of ill-treatment by law enforcement officials, taking due account of the CPT’s recommendations, and invited them to provide the Committee with concrete and detailed information on the measures taken or envisaged in response to the European Court’s judgments in these cases;
  1. invited, as regards the effectiveness of investigations, the authorities to provide by 1 September 2019 detailed information on the following issues:
  2. a) the suspension of the limitation period for offences related to violations similar to those in the present cases;
  3. b) the overall possibility to reopen disciplinary investigations in cases where criminal or disciplinary liability has already been decided, taking into account the ne bis in idem principle enshrined in Law 4443/2016;
  4. c) the effectiveness of the new complaint Mechanism (the Ombudsman), notably in the light of the outcome of the investigations into the complaints submitted since the Mechanism started to function on 9 June 2017;
  5. d) the impact of the new reinforced legislative protection against racist crime and possible new measures envisaged to ensure the investigation of possible racist motives when ill-treatment occurs in the context of law enforcement;
  6. e) the extent to which decisions to close criminal investigations on the basis of prescription can be subjected to judicial or other independent review;
  7. f) the measures taken or envisaged in the context of the ongoing revision of the Criminal Code in order to fully align the conduct of criminal investigations into ill-treatment and the relevant sanctions with the requirements of the Court’s case-law, in particular as regards the definition of torture and the possibilities to convert terms of imprisonment imposed for torture and other ill-treatment into non-custodial sentences.

1331st meeting, 4-6 December 2018 (DH)

Human rights

 

H46-13 Makaratzis group v. Greece (Application No. 50385/99)

Supervision of the execution of the European Court’s judgments

Reference document

CM/Del/Dec(2017)1302/H46-11

 

Application Case Judgment of Final on Indicator for the classification
50385/99 MAKARATZIS 20/12/2004 Grand Chamber Complex problem
15250/02 BEKOS AND KOUTROPOULOS 13/12/2005 13/03/2006
25771/03 ALSAYED ALLAHAM 18/01/2007 23/05/2007
17060/03 ZELILOF 24/05/2007 24/08/2007
27850/03 KARAGIANNOPOULOS 21/06/2007 21/09/2007
21449/04 CELNIKU 05/07/2007 05/10/2007
44803/04 PETROPOULOU-TSAKIRIS 06/12/2007 06/03/2008
43326/05 LEONIDIS 08/01/2009 05/06/2009
2945/07 GALOTSKIN 14/01/2010 14/04/2010
2954/07 STEFANOU 22/04/2010 04/10/2010
12294/07 ZONTUL 17/01/2012 17/04/2012
33349/10 SIDIROPOULOS AND PAPAKOSTAS 25/01/2018 25/04/2018
42660/11 ANDERSEN 26/04/2018 26/07/2018

Case description

These cases concern the use of potentially lethal force by the police in the absence of an adequate legislative and administrative framework governing the use of firearms (violation of positive obligation pursuant to Article 2 to protect life in the cases Makaratzis, Celniku, Karagiannopoulos and Leonidis); ill-treatment by police (violation of Article 3 in the cases of Bekos and Koutropoulos, Alsayed Allaham, Petropoulou-Tsakyri, Zelilof, Galotskin and Stefanou); ill-treatment by coastguards amounting to torture (violation of Article 3 in the case of Zontul); absence of effective administrative and criminal investigations and inadequate criminal proceedings and penalties (procedural violations of Article 2 in the cases of Makaratzis, Celniku, Karagiannopoulos and of Article 3 in the cases of Bekos-Koutropoulos, Petropoulou-Tsakiris, Zelilof, Galotskin, Zontul, Sidiropoulos and Papakostas and Andersen); failure to investigate whether racist motives on the part of the police may have played a role in some cases (violation of Article 14 combined with Article 3 in the cases of Bekos-Koutropoulos and Petropoulou-Tsakiris).

The Galotskin, Stefanou and Sidiropoulos and Papakostas cases also concern the excessive length of criminal proceedings (violation of Article 6 § 1); in the latter a violation of Article 13 in conjunction with Article 6 § 1 was also found[1].

Status of execution

Individual measures

As regards all cases apart from Sidiropoulos and Papakostas and Andersen

At the 1157th meeting (December 2012) (DH), the authorities indicated that it was not possible under domestic law to reopen criminal proceedings on the sole basis of the deficiencies identified by the Court in the cases of the group where the perpetrators had been convicted or acquitted. As regards the cases where criminal charges had not been brought, these would be re-examined. Following re-examination of those cases it was found that the offences had become time-barred. As for disciplinary proceedings, the authorities indicated at that time that their reopening following a judgment by the European Court could be requested by the executive committee of “the Office for addressing arbitrary incidents” (“the Office”), established by Law No. 3938/2011, in respect of judgments of the Court delivered after 31 March 2011 (that date on which this law entered into force). Also, the statutory limitation period for disciplinary offences would not run between the termination of the disciplinary proceedings and the delivery of the Court’s judgment to the Office. In a communication received on 8 July 2015, the Greek authorities informed the Committee that the reopening of the administrative investigation in Zontul in the light of the Court’s findings would be considered as soon as the committee established by Law 3938/2011 became operational.

On 27 September 2017, the Greek authorities informed the Committee that Law 4443/2016 (in force as from 6 December 2016) had replaced the Office with the national mechanism for the investigation of incidents of abuse by law enforcement agents and by employees of state penitentiary establishments (Mechanism for the Investigation of Arbitrary Behaviour – “the Mechanism”), which was integrated into the Ombudsman’s Office. Furthermore, the authorities informed the Committee that the Zontul judgment was transmitted to the Mechanism on 27 July 2017, and that on 11 August 2017 the Mechanism requested the reopening of the administrative investigation in this case in the light of the European Court’s findings.

At its 1302nd meeting (December 2017) (DH), the Committee invited the Greek authorities to provide information on further developments and on the outcome of the reopened procedure. It also requested information regarding the examination by the Mechanism of the possibility of reopening administrative proceedings in the other cases of the group concerning ill-treatment by law enforcement agents.

In their communication of 8 October 2018, the Greek authorities informed the Committee that as regards Zontul, the Mechanism initially decided that there was no question of violation of the ne bis in idem principle since the offences to be investigated in the reopened proceedings were different from those investigated initially, and requested the reopening of the disciplinary proceedings on the basis of the European Court’s findings. The authorities added that the disciplinary proceedings were reopened by the Hellenic Coast Guard and concluded by a report issued on 13 April 2018. Subsequently, the Mechanism issued its conclusions concurring with the Hellenic Coast Guard that, although the disciplinary offences investigated were different from those investigated initially, they had become time-barred because they had not been classified by domestic courts as criminal offences subject to longer statutory limitations.

According to the Mechanism, under Article 56 § 6 of Law 4443/2016 the suspension of the offences’ prescription between the termination of disciplinary proceedings and the delivery of the Court’s judgment to the Mechanism is possible only for those cases in which the prescription period had not expired by the date on which the Mechanism became operational (9 June 2017). As regards the other cases of the group, the Mechanism held that reopening of disciplinary proceedings was not possible because the offences had become prescribed long before the Mechanism became operational.

For all of these cases, the Mechanism proposed as the only possible individual measures a written apology from the heads of the services concerned to each of the victims of the impugned acts. In this way, moral satisfaction could be provided to these persons; at the same time there would be a commitment on the part of the relevant services that future disciplinary proceedings will be carried out in conformity with the Court’s case law. The Government Agent indicated that he agrees with this proposal and that he would pursue it before the services concerned.

As regards the cases of Sidiropoulos and Papakostas and Andersen

The above judgments became final on 24 April 2018 (Sidiropoulos and Papakostas) and on 26 July 2018 (Andersen). On 30 July 2018 the judgments were transmitted by the Government Agent to the Mechanism to examine the possibility of reopening administrative investigations, and on 20 August 2018 to the competent judicial authorities to examine the possibility of reopening criminal investigations. As regards Andersen, the First Instance Court Prosecutor of Thessaloniki examined the file and decided in September 2018 that the reopening of the case was not possible due to the fact that the offences were subject to prescription.

General measures

As regards administrative investigations of complaints against law enforcement agents

At its 1157th meeting (December 2012) (DH), the Committee of Ministers welcomed the repeal of Law No. 29/1943 on the use of firearms, which had been criticised by the European Court, noted that the new national legislation introduced a modern and comprehensive legislative framework for the use of firearms by the police and decided to close the supervision of the general measures taken by Greece to prevent similar violations of Article 2.

Furthermore, the Committee of Ministers welcomed the establishment by Law No. 3938/2011 of the three-member executive committee to head the aforementioned Office.

According to information provided by the authorities in September 2017, the Office did not become operational. Instead, as mentioned above, the Mechanism was established by Law No. 4443/2016, as part of the Ombudsman’s Office. The Mechanism is mandated to collect, record, assess and transmit to the competent bodies complaints about the actions of law enforcement agents and employees of detention establishments regarding: a) torture and other violations to human dignity within the meaning of Article 137A of the Criminal Code; b) illegal, intentional attacks against life, health, physical integrity, personal or sexual freedom; c) illegal use of firearms; or d) illegal behaviour for which there is evidence of racist motivation or discriminatory treatment on the grounds of colour, race, national or ethnic origin, descent, religion, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity. More specifically, the Ombudsman, acting as the Mechanism, evaluates all submitted complaints which fall within his specific competence and decides either to investigate them himself or to refer them to the competent disciplinary body.

If the Ombudsman decides to investigate the complaint himself, the competent disciplinary body is not prevented from continuing its investigation but is obliged to suspend its decision on the case pending receipt of the Ombudsman’s findings. If the Ombudsman decides to refer the case to the competent disciplinary body, the latter is obliged to investigate it as a priority, and inform the Ombudsman of the outcome. The Ombudsman evaluates the findings of the disciplinary proceedings and may send the case back to the disciplinary body for further investigation if specific shortcomings are identified. The Ombudsman’s findings are not legally binding, but the disciplinary body concerned is obliged to provide detailed reasoning in case of any divergence from them.

The Ombudsman is also empowered to request the reopening of an administrative investigation in cases where the European Court has found the initial investigation ineffective. When the Ombudsman decides to reopen the case, based on the findings of the European Court, he communicates this decision to the disciplinary body concerned.

During the investigation, the Ombudsman may request public services to provide any information, documents or other evidence related to the case under investigation, unless they have been classified as secret on grounds of national defence, state security or the country’s international relations. Furthermore, the Ombudsman may take statements from witnesses, conduct on-site investigations and order expert reports.

According to the authorities’ communication of 8 October 2018, the Ombudsman indicated in his annual report submitted to Parliament on 26 March 2018 that, since 6 June 2017, 117 complaints had been submitted to the Mechanism. 11 complaints were submitted by individuals and 112 by state services responsible for investigating disciplinary offences. The Mechanism found that four complaints were not within the scope of the Ombudsman’s competence, whilst the remaining complaints were followed up. In seven cases the investigations were concluded by the respective services and their reports were under examination by the Ombudsman. In two cases the Ombudsman held that the investigations were insufficient and referred them back to the competent services. In four cases investigations were being carried out by the Ombudsman himself.

As regards the offences investigated, 15 concerned torture, 15 the use of firearms, 14 concerned affronts to sexual dignity, 53 concerned attacks against life or physical integrity and, lastly, 11 concerned racially motivated offences. According to information provided by the police, between June 2017 and March 2018 223 complaints were transmitted to the Ombudsman. 31 of these were found not to be within the scope of the Ombudsman’s competence. Administrative inquiries were ordered in 136 cases. Of these, 71 were completed and the relevant conclusions transmitted to the Ombudsman. In 17 cases the police were ordered to carry out further investigations; in nine of them, further investigations were carried out and they were referred back to the Ombudsman. In order to enhance co-operation between the police and the Ombudsman, a circular was issued by the head of the Greek police in June 2017.

As regards other general measures aiming at combatting ill-treatment by law enforcement officers and racially motivated crimes

At its 1302nd meeting (December 2017) (DH), the Committee noted that a law-making committee had been established, tasked with examining whether the definition of torture in Greek law is compatible with the definition in Article 1 of the UN Convention against Torture. It also noted that the authorities had undertaken to examine the matter of conversion of custodial sentences imposed for torture with a view to ensuring that perpetrators of torture or other ill-treatment are proportionately and effectively punished. Lastly, the Committee invited the authorities to provide information about further relevant developments.

On 8 October 2018 the authorities informed the Committee that the above committee had concluded its work and submitted a draft criminal code to the Ministry of Justice which would be soon sent to Parliament for adoption. The authorities noted that the review of the definition of torture in the Criminal Code is beyond the necessary measures for the execution of the present judgments, because the Court did not indicate that the violations found were linked to the criminal law provisions criminalising torture or affront to life and bodily harm. According to the authorities, it was rather the lenient application by domestic courts of these provisions that led to procedural violations of Article 3.

The Greek Helsinki Monitor in its communication submitted in September 2018 mentioned notably that since June 2017 it had submitted to the Ombudsman 18 complaints of ill-treatment (including of migrants and Roma[2]) by law enforcement agents, but had not received any information on the progress of these cases.

Lastly, it is noted that as of October 2018 five new cases concerning ill-treatment by law enforcement agents have been communicated to the Greek Government.

Analysis by the Secretariat

As regards individual measures

Criminal proceedings

It is recalled that in relation to 10 cases of the group, criminal charges were brought against the law enforcement agents involved, who were either acquitted or sentenced. In relation to three cases (Zelilof, Petropoulou-Tsakiris and Andersen), where criminal proceedings had not been brought, the files were re-examined and it was found that the offences had become time-barred.

Administrative proceedings

As regards the Zontul case, the reopening of the criminal investigations into torture (as the facts were characterised by the Court) instead of mere infringement of sexual dignity (as the events were characterised in the domestic proceedings) is claimed by the authorities to be objectively impossible since the perpetrator had already been convicted at the time of the Court’s judgment for the acts at issue. In the circumstances of the case, this objection – based on the principles of legal certainty and ne bis in idem – appears justified as no new facts or other evidence emerged in the procedure before the European Court. The violations were be solely related to the legal characterisation of these acts and to shortcomings in the investigation procedure.

In view of this situation, and of the importance of effectively preventing impunity in cases of torture, the possibility of disciplinary proceedings has been explored.

It is recalled that this has been considered, in the special circumstances of the present case, to be another avenue of redress to give a measure of effect to the Court’s findings. It is further recalled that the established case law provides that, when an agent of the State is accused of crimes that violate Article 3, criminal proceedings and sentencing must not be time-barred.[3] It is also recalled that where state agents have been charged with offences involving ill‑treatment, they should be suspended from duty while being investigated or tried, and should be dismissed if convicted.[4]

It is thus to be welcomed that the disciplinary investigations have continued. However, the conduct of these proceedings raises questions as to how the conclusions of the Court were taken into account both as regards the possibility of reopening the administrative investigations and the application of the relevant prescription rules when determining disciplinary liability.

As mentioned earlier the Mechanism (Ombudsman) requested the Hellenic Coast Guard to reopen the disciplinary proceedings, considering that there was no question of infringement of the ne bis in idem principle, since the new investigation would presumably focus on the offence of torture and not on the offences actually investigated in the context of the criminal proceedings. However, following the conclusion of the reopened investigation by the Hellenic Coast Guard, the Ombudsman concluded that the offences established were indeed time-barred because of the application of the general prescription period of five years that applies to the offence of infringement of sexual dignity. This change of position as to the scope of the disciplinary proceedings requires further explanation.

Even assuming that the disciplinary proceedings could only relate to the offence of infringement of sexual dignity, questions remain as to the application of prescription periods in the context of disciplinary action.

The Greek authorities have previously informed the Committee (see documents CM/Inf/DH(2012)40,
DH-DD(2015)757 and DH-DD(2018)971) that: a) for disciplinary offences the limitation period would not run during criminal proceedings; and b) according to Article 1 § 6 of Law No. 3938/2011, the limitation period for disciplinary offences giving rise to violations found by the Court would not run between the termination of disciplinary proceedings by the Hellenic Coast Guard (August 2001, § 16 Zontul) and the delivery of the Court’s judgment to the Office. However, the Office never became operational and was replaced only in 2017 by the Mechanism. The provision on the suspension of prescription remained unchanged. From the information provided, it appears that the Mechanism did not take into account the suspension of prescription in accordance with Article 1 § 6 of Law 3938/11. In view of the above, clarifications are necessary on how the statutory prescription periods for disciplinary offences were calculated and implemented by the Ombudsman.

It would be also useful to the Committee for the authorities to provide the full text of the conclusions issued by the Hellenic Coast Guard in Zontul. In this way, the Committee could acquire a detailed and comprehensive overview of these proceedings concerning torture.

As regards the Mechanism’s proposal that the heads of the services involved issue written apologies to the victims, it should be welcomed. The Committee might wish to encourage the authorities to consider it as a measure of moral compensation, and invite the authorities to provide more information on the effect given to this proposal.

General measures

As regards the problem of ill-treatment of persons in detention, it is noted that this issue has been the subject of several CPT reports. Its latest report on Greece (CPT/Inf (2017)25 §§ 62-66) states, inter alia, that as regards the treatment of criminal suspects detained by law enforcement officials, and despite overwhelming indications to the contrary, the authorities have to date consistently refused to consider that ill-treatment is a serious problem there, and have not taken the required action to implement the CPT’s recommendations and to combat this phenomenon effectively.

The CPT has notably underlined that in order to back up any message of zero tolerance and to reinforce training, effective investigations into allegations of ill-treatment must be undertaken to demonstrate that criminal acts by the police will be punished, and to counter the current culture of impunity that pervades parts of the police force.

In view of the above, and of the fact that as of October 2018 five new applications against Greece lodged between 2013 and 2016 involving, inter alia, alleged violations of Article 3 due to ill-treatment in law enforcement have been communicated to the government, the Committee might visit to invite the authorities to provide information on measures taken or envisaged to give effect to the conclusions of the Court in the present group of cases, taking into account the CPT’s recommendations.

Administrative investigations of complaints against law enforcement agents concerning violations of Articles 2 and 3 of the Convention 

It is recalled that the supervision of the execution of the judgments of this group focuses on the implementation of measures taken to prevent ill-treatment by law enforcement officers and to guarantee proper and effective investigations into acts giving rise to a risk to life or of ill-treatment by law enforcement officers.

It appears that a key element in the execution of the Court’s judgments is the effective operation of the Ombudsman as the Mechanism. 15 of the complaints referred to by the authorities, submitted to the Ombudsman after the judgments in the present group, led to administrative investigations for torture, whilst 53 complaints concerned attacks against life or bodily harm. However, no information was provided about the scope and effectiveness of the investigations undertaken or about their outcome as regards disciplinary or criminal responsibility of the alleged perpetrators. The authorities should provide the Committee with more information in these and other relevant respects, to permit an evaluation of the effectiveness and independence of the investigations carried under the supervision of the Mechanism.

As regards reopening of administrative investigations

The special problems raised in the Zontul case require additional attention. Given that, according to the above law, reopening of disciplinary proceedings, to the extent they impose sanctions, should not infringe the ne bis in idem principle, and given the problems identified above in this respect, as well as regards the application of prescription periods, it would be useful for the Committee to receive information about the implementation of the legislation by the Ombudsman in the cases at issue in this group and possibly others so that conclusions can be drawn about how Law 4443/2016 might be applied in possible future cases. More specifically, information would be useful about: a) the suspension of statutory limitation periods for the offences that gave rise to the violations found by the Court; and b) in view of the ne bis in idem principle, the overall possibility to reopen disciplinary investigations in cases where criminal or disciplinary liability has already been decided upon.

Some of the present cases also concern the authorities’ failure to investigate whether racist motives on the part of the police may have played a role in the applicants’ ill-treatment. Given that the authorities have not provided updated information on the impact of measures taken or measures envisaged to prevent similar violations, the Committee might wish to call on the authorities to do so.

Adequacy of criminal proceedings and sanctioning by domestic courts

It is recalled that in a number of the present judgments the Court’s findings of procedural violations of Article 3 stemmed from inadequacies in criminal proceedings, concerning notably: inadequate access for the applicant as a civil party to the criminal proceedings (Zontul § 111); inadequate witness-related proceedings indicating a lack of effort by the competent authorities to discover what really happened (Alsayed Allaham § 28-29, Galotskin § 49, Zelilof § 62); and the handling (and closing) of the relevant complaints by the prosecutor (Andersen §65).[5] In addition, procedural violations of Article 3 in some of these cases stemmed, inter alia, from the leniency and disproportionate sentences imposed by domestic courts on law enforcement agents, even in cases where (aggravated) torture occurred (Zontul §§ 106-108, Sidiropoulos and Papakostas §§ 90-96). In view of this, the Committee might wish to call on the authorities to provide information on measures taken or envisaged in order to redress these shortcomings and to fully align criminal law and practice with the Court’s case law.

Definition of torture in the Criminal Code

This issue was raised by the Court in Zontul (§§ 87-93), in which it noted that the court of appeal had not characterised the applicant’s rape by truncheon as torture because Article 137A § 2 of the Criminal Code provides that, in order for an act to be characterised as torture, the infliction of severe pain must be “planned”. The Court found that under its established case law a detainee’s rape by a state agent constitutes torture under the Convention.

The information provided concerning the review of the definition of torture in the Criminal Code in order to align it with Article 1 of the UN Convention against Torture is positive, as the requirements of this Article are the same as those under the Convention. However, no detailed information was provided about the outcome of this review, notably about when the authorities intend to propose the amendments to the Criminal Code needed to bring it into line with the requirements of the Convention. The Committee might wish to invite the authorities to provide more information on the progress of the present legislative work.

Financing assured: YES

[1] The issues of excessively lengthy criminal proceedings and effective remedies were examined in the Michelioudakis / Diamantides No.2 group of cases,  closed by Final Resolution CM/ResDH(2015)231.

[2] The term “Roma and Travellers” is used at the Council of Europe to encompass the wide diversity of the groups covered by the work of the Council of Europe in this field: on the one hand a) Roma, Sinti/Manush, Calé, Kaale, Romanichals, Boyash/Rudari; b) Balkan Egyptians (Egyptians and Ashkali); c) Eastern groups (Dom, Lom and Abdal); and, on the other hand, groups such as Travellers, Yenish, and the populations designated under the administrative term “Gens du voyage”, as well as persons who identify themselves as Gypsies. The present is an explanatory footnote, not a definition of Roma and/or Travellers.

[3] See, inter alia, Yeter v. Turkey, judgment of 13 January 2017 §70, Mocanu v. Romania, GC judgment. of 17 September 2014, §326.

[4] See, inter alia, Gäfgen v. Germany, GC judgment of 1 June 2010 §125.

[5] See also CPT report on Greece of 1 March 2016 (CPT/Inf (2016) 4 §24) stating that “ the current system is characterised by systemic failings by the police and judicial authorities to conduct prompt, thorough, independent and impartial investigations, aimed at bringing the perpetrators of ill-treatment to justice”.

European Implementation Network civil society briefing focuses on Georgia, Greece and the Russian Federation

https://greekhelsinki.files.wordpress.com/2018/11/23d84-1543239141801.png?w=307&h=307

EIN civil society briefing focuses on Georgia, Greece and the Russian Federation

On 23 November 2018, EIN held its quarterly civil society briefing, ahead of the 1331st CM-DH meeting.

Presentations were given on the following cases:

1- Alekseyev v Russia (Application No 4916/07) and Bayev v Russia (Application No 67667/09) – Repeated bans on the holding of LGTBI marches and pickets; fines imposed for displaying banners considered to promote homosexuality among minors (against laws prohibiting such “propaganda”).

2- Makaratzis v Greece (Application No 50385/99) – Ill-treatment by coastguards and other state agents and a lack of effective investigations.

3- Merabishvili v Georgia (Application 72508/13) – Failure by the domestic courts to give relevant and sufficient reasons to justify continuation of detention on remand; continued detention on remand with the predominant purpose of obtaining information from the applicant about third persons.

4- Bekir Ousta v Greece (Application 35151/05) – Refusal of domestic courts to register the applicants’ associations.

 

 Participants in the briefing. Photo: EIN

Participants in the briefing. Photo: EIN

 

Over 35 participants attended the briefing, including participants from the Permanent Representations to the Council of Europe, the office of the Commissioner for Human Rights, and other CoE staff members. The main recommendations from the briefing are available here.

1- Alekseyev v Russian Federation (Application No 4916/07) and Bayev v Russia (Application No 67667/09)

The Alekseyev v. Russia case addresses repeated bans on demonstrations promoting tolerance and respect for the human rights of LGBTI persons in 2005, 2006 and 2007, and the absence of an effective remedy to challenge those bans. The European Court of Human Rights (the Court) found violations of Convention Articles 11 (right to freedom of assembly), 13 (right to an effective remedy), and 14 (prohibition of discrimination) taken in conjunction with Article 11.

 

 Nigel Warner from ILGA Europe reporting about the Alekseyev and Bayev v RF cases. Photo: EIN
Nigel Warner from ILGA Europe reporting about the Alekseyev and Bayev v RF cases. Photo: EIN

 

The Bayev v. Russia case addresses violations of the right to freedom of expression and discrimination on account of fines imposed on the applicants for displaying banners considered to promote homosexuality among minors. The banners were held by the Russian courts to be against the regional laws prohibiting such “propaganda”, adopted in several regions since 2006, and followed by a nation-wide law of 2013 similar to that effect (violations of Article 10 and of Article 14 in conjunction with Article 10).

The main argument advanced by the RF in support of these laws – that they are necessary to protect minors from information about homosexuality – was dismissed by the ECtHR as “lacking any evidentiary basis”.

The execution of judgments process in the Alekseyev case has now been proceeding for 7 ½ years. Over that time, in numerous Decisions, the CM has repeatedly expressed concern that the competent authorities have refused the majority of requests to hold public events similar to those in the Alekseyev judgment. It has also made numerous warnings against the introduction of regional and federal laws prohibiting so-called “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships” (the “propaganda” laws). These were ignored, and despite assurances by the Russian government to the contrary, these laws have been used on many occasions to refuse authorisation of public events in support of the rights of LGBTI persons. As far as the Bayev case is concerned, the judgment is relatively recent (June 2017).

In his presentation, Nigel Warner focused on the main recommendations listed in the Rule 9.2 communication submitted on those cases by Coming Out, a St Petersburg-based NGO, and ILGA Europe, in October 2018. According to Mr Warner, the latest Action Plan of the Russian Federation on those cases offers no evidence of any improvement or prospect of improvement in the situation. Furthermore, it appears to repudiate the Bayev judgment, citing a ruling of the RF Constitutional Court to the effect that the “propaganda laws” are consistent with the constitution. The “propaganda laws” continue to be used to the detriment of LGTB youth.

In view of this situation, Mr Warner therefore invited the CM to:

  • repeat its request to the Russian authorities to adopt a comprehensive action plan to ensure execution of the Alekseyev and Bayev judgments. This request should, as a minimum, include the repeal of legislation prohibiting so-called “propaganda of homosexual relations”; and
  • continue requesting information on the treatment of notifications to hold public events similar to those in the Alekseyev case.

The memo of Mr Warner is available here. His power point presentation is here. The October 2018 rule 9.2 submission form ILGA Europe and Coming Out is here. You can access the October 2018 Action Plan from the Russian Federation here.

2- Makaratzis and others group of cases v Greece (Application No 50385/99)

These cases concern ill-treatment and the unauthorized and disproportionate use of force by law enforcement officials.

An update on the group was delivered by Panayote Dimitras from the Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM), which represents the victims in nine of thirteen cases of the group.

Mr Dimitras first underlined the positive points included in Greece’s communication dated 4/10/2018 on the Makaratzis group of cases, i.e. the beginning of the functioning of the National Mechanism for the Investigation of Arbitrary Behaviour (hereafter “the Mechanism”) within the framework of the Greek Ombudsman; and the agreement of the Government with the Mechanism recommendation that letters of apology be sent to victims of the incriminating acts.

 

 Panayote Dimitras from the Greek Helsinki Monitor on the Makaratzis group of cases. Photo: EIN

Panayote Dimitras from the Greek Helsinki Monitor on the Makaratzis group of cases. Photo: EIN

 

He further highlighted the historical decision of the Supreme Court Prosecutor, in the Chowdury and others v Greece case, to file an appeal for the cassation of a domestic court judgment for the benefit of the law, to comply with the ECtHR judgment ruling that this domestic judgment was violating the ECHR. He reminded that GHM had recommended as a fundamental remedy to execute ECtHR judgments the filing of such appeals for cassation by the Supreme Court Prosecutor in case where the violations ruled by the ECtHR resulted from domestic court judgments.

Despite these positive developments, there is still need for further progress. With regard to the work of the Ombudsman as the Mechanism for the investigation of arbitrary behaviour, in particular, Mr Dimitras regretted the lack of transparency and information on the Mechanism. GHM, which represents the victims in nine out of thirteen cases has never received any communication from the Mechanism. Most importantly, Mr Dimitras expressed his concern over the decision by the Ombudsman on almost all new cases not to carry out his own investigations but only to supervise them, and entrust the disciplinary investigations to what GHM considers as objectively partial investigation bodies. He also recalled that, in its Report on Greece of 2 November 2018, the UN Human Rights Committee evaluated the answers from Greece related to the work of the Ombudsman and the effectiveness of the Mechanism as either partially satisfactory or not satisfactory.

With regard to the Makaratzis group of cases, GHM therefore urged the CM to ask the Greek government to:

  • reopen all disciplinary investigations in the 13 cases of the Makaratzis group;
  • request the Supreme Court Prosecutor to file appeals for cassation for the benefit of law of ten domestic judgments in the Makaratzis group of cases found by the ECtHR to be in violation of the ECHR;
  • provide detailed information on the punishment of law enforcement officials for misconduct, ill-treatment or disproportionate use of force;
  • make sure that the Ombudsman investigates himself the torture or ill-treatment allegations;
  • empower the Ombudsman to impose sanctions. To do so, the law should be amended so that the Mechanism can impose penalties; concretely, a solution would be to remove the Mechanism from the Ombudsman and make it independent.
  • introduce the necessary amendments so that the definition of torture is compatible with Article 1 of UN CAT

The memo of Mr Dimitras on this group of cases is available here. The latest communication from the Greek government (September 2017) is here. You can also download the Rules 9.2. September and October submissions by the Greek Helsinki Monitor.

 

3. Merabishvili v Georgia (Application 72508/13)

 

 Georgian MP Otar Kakhidze and another Georgian MP updating on the Merabishvili case. Photo: EIN.

Georgian MP Otar Kakhidze and another Georgian MP updating on the Merabishvili case. Photo: EIN.

 

The case concerns violations suffered by the applicant, a former Prime Minister of Georgia, in the context of the criminal proceedings instituted against him in December 2012 and January 2013, for alleged embezzlement and the abuse of official authority (violations of Article 5 § 3 and Article 18 taken in conjunction with Article 5 § 1 of the Convention).

The presentation on this case was given by Mr Kakhidze, MP of Georgia, on the basis of the Rule 9 submission filed on this case by EHRAC in September 2018.

Mr Kakhidze noted that, following the release of Ilgar Mammadov on 13 August 2018, Mr Merabishvili was the only convicted individual against whom a violation of Article 18 of the Convention had been found who remained in detention.

In its Action Plan, the Government proposes to undertake further investigative measures taking full account of the Grand Chamber’s findings. “The only potential investigative mechanism in which Mr Merabishvili has confidence”, stated by Mr Kakhidze, “is an investigation by the Parliamentary Commission (a Temporary Investigative Commission, set up pursuant to the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament of Georgia, Chapter 6, Articles 55-70”). Mr Kakhidze reminded that in September 2017 he requested that such a Parliamentary Commission be established to investigate Mr Merabishvili’s covert removal. Despite the fact that this request remains pending before Parliament, the Government rejected this proposal in its Action Plan (para. 33).

Mr. Kakhidze stated that without Mr. Merabishvili’s early release another investigation was not an answer to the established breach of Article 18/5. He emphasized that even the judges dissenting on violation of Article 18 agreed that Mr. Merabishvili was removed from his cell. Mr Kakhidze also reminded that an official internal inquiry of Merabishvili’s covert removal was conducted in 2014, and another formal investigation was launched in 2016 by the “reformed” prosecution service with a “newly appointed chief prosecutor”. However, the outcome which they published in 2017 clearly contradicted the ECtHR findings, both in the chamber and GC.

The Georgian Government indicated that the current domestic law prevented mobile telephone records and cell tower data from being examined as part of any further investigation, as the offence being investigated in relation to Mr Merabishvili’s removal fell within the category of less grave crimes (Action Plan, paras 34-36). It therefore proposed to amend the domestic legislation in order to permit such investigative steps to be carried out (Action Plan, para. 37). However, as Mr Kakhidze underlined, the Government failed to provide any further information as to what specific amendments it proposed to make, within what time period, whether such amendments would be retrospective (i.e. could be applied in Mr Merabishvili’s case) or whether practically this would have any effect (i.e. whether the relevant records in this case continue to exist almost 5 years after the event in question).

The Government also indicated that it has already undertaken a number of General Measures, in light of the Grand Chamber’s judgment, including:

a. Extending the period of time for storing video surveillance footage from 24 to 120 hours (Action Plan, para. 66; Order N35 amended by Order N19 (20 March 2017)); and

b. Creation of State Inspector’s Service SIS (Action Plan, paras 74-5).

Mr Kakhidze underlined that, in reality, video surveillance footage in detention facilities are stored for 30 days, but the Government tries to make the impression that “the system change” will be seen by the CM as an effective general measure. He noted that the proposed SIS was entirely irrelevant to Mr Merabishvili’s case as the crimes that it is empowered to investigate does not include any crimes related to Mr Merabishvili’s covert removal.

Mr. Kakhidze submitted that the Government intends to take the Committee of Ministers’ attention from individual measures to general legislative measures which, in his opinion, aims at delaying Mr. Merabishvili’s early release. According to him, the applicant’s continuous detention still has ulterior purposes disclosed by the Court when establishing violation of Article 18 in conjunction with Article 5.

As previously submitted (see letter to the Committee of Ministers dated 26 January 2018), in order to effectively implement the Grand Chamber judgment in his case, the Georgian authorities should therefore:

  • Re-open the criminal proceedings against him;
  • Pending the outcome of the re-opening of the criminal proceedings, order Mr Merabishvili’s release; and
  • Ensure rigorous investigation of his covert removal by an independent body.

You can download the text of the EHRAC rule 9 submission on this case, as well as all attachments: annexe 1, 2, 3 , 4 and 5. The power point presentation of Mr Kakhidze is here. The October 2018 Action Plan from the Georgian government can be downloaded here. The November 2018 Rule 9.2. submission by the Public Defender of Georgia can be downloaded here.

Other documents presented by Mr Kakhidze:

Nov 2018 letter from Georgian MPs to the CM-DH.

October statement from Georgian NGOs on the crisis of institutions in Georgia

Excerpt from the Georgian Public Defender Report 2018

4. Bekir Ousta and others group of cases v Greece (Application No 35151/05)

These cases concern violations of the right to freedom of association (Article 11) due to the refusal to register Turkish minority associations (Bekir-Ousta and Others and Emin and Others; final domestic decisions in 2006 and 2005 respectively).

 

 Photo: EIN

Photo: EIN

 

Mr Dimitras, from the Greek Helsinki Monitor, gave a summary of the developments since the last examination of the case by the CM, in December 2017. In February 2018, the Cultural Association of Turkish Women of the Prefecture of Xanthi was refused registration on similar grounds as in the present group of cases. In its 2018 communications, mentioned Mr Dimitras, Greece has refused to address the CM December 2017 concerns on these developments. More importantly, the Supreme Court Judgment dissolving the Turkish Union of Xanthi (which was the first of the three Turkish minority associations of the group of cases that filed an application for the reopening of the domestic proceedings), was considered by the Greek government as irrevocable. This means, Mr Dimitras explained, “that any similar applications for the reopening of the proceedings on the basis of Articles 29 and 30 of Law 4491/2017 by ethnic Turkish and ethnic Macedonian minority associations vindicated by the ECtHR will have no chance to become admissible by domestic courts”.

Bearing in mind these developments, Mr Dimitras called on the CM to ask the Greek government to:

  • provide explanations for the two domestic court decisions not to register the new Cultural Association of Turkish Women in the Prefecture of Xhanti, and to reject as inadmissible the Turkish Union of Xhanti’s application to have its dissolution annulled;
  • promptly introduce a legislative amendment that will change the procedure so as to introduce a simple registration of associations, along the line of (for instance) the French model;
  • request that the Supreme Court Prosecutor to file appeals for cassation against all domestic judgments that were found by the ECtHR to violate the ECHR, including the four judgments related to the Bekir -Ousta associations.

The memo of Mr Dimitras and his recommendations are available here. The Rule 9.2. submission of the Greek Helsinki Monitor published in September and October 2018 are there. The December 2017 CM decision on this case is here.

16/11/2018: New evidence of police violence and illegal deportation of asylum seekers in Evros

ghm

GREEK HELSINKI MONITOR (GHM)

Address: P.O. Box 60820, GR-15304 Glyka Nera Tel.: (+30) 2103472259 Fax: (+30) 2106018760

 email: panayotedimitras@gmail.com website: https://greekhelsinki.wordpress.com


 

Ms. Dunja Mijatović

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights

Commissioner@coe.int

16 November 2018

 

Another video evidence of police violence and illegal deportation of asylum seekers in Evros

 

Dear Commissioner,

 

Further to our 9 and 29 September 2018 letters, we are sending another update with information published in http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-villagers-warmly-welcome-migrants-after-greek-police-beat-them-naked-138823 and reprinted (without editing) here.

κατάλογος

November 13 2018 14:31:11

Turkish villagers warmly welcome migrants
after Greek police beat them naked

EDİRNE

Turkish villagers warmly welcome migrants after Greek police beat them naked

Residents of the Kiremitçi Salih village in the northwestern Turkish province of Edirne warmly welcomed a group of migrants they found naked and exhausted in their fields late Nov. 11.

According to local media reports, migrants from Yemen and Palestine walked to the Turkish village after they were beaten by Greek police on the other side of the border, which they had crossed illegally.

The Turkish villagers opened the local coffee house and turned on the stove heater to warm the half-naked migrants, who were offered clothes, food and warm drinks.

“All of them have marks and scars on their backs. They said the Greek police beat them before forcing them to walk back into Turkey,” village head Zeki Ateş told journalists.

Turkish gendarmerie forces later took the migrants from the village and bused them to a migration center.


 

In the Turkish language coverage here https://www.haberler.com/edirne-yunan-polisinin-ciplak-gonderdigi-gocmenler-11437700-haberi/ there is additionally a video with interviews with some of the victims also reported in the text.

 

We appreciate your reference to the recurring problem in your recent report on Greece and urge you again to write to the Greek authorities asking them to promptly and efficiently investigate this new group claim of ill-treatment and/or illegal destruction of documents and/or deportation of reportedly 80 persons who are now in Turkey by one (or more) Supreme Court Deputy Prosecutor(s) or Athens Appeals Court Prosecutor(s) for the criminal aspect and the Greek Ombudsman for the administrative aspect.

 

We thank you for your attention to this letter.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Panayote Dimitras

GHM Spokesperson and OMCT General Assembly Member