by Aggelos Skordas
Thessaloniki’s Single-Judge Misdemeanors Court has convicted three of the men who participated in the May 19 violent mob attack against the city’s Mayor Yiannis Boutaris on Wednesday. Specifically, a 20-year-old assailant and a 36-year-old ethnic Greek from Georgia were sentenced to 14 months imprisonment, while a second 20-year-old was sentenced to 21 months. The judge suspended the jail sentences of the two 20-year-old men for three years, while the 36-year-old can buy off his for five euros per day.
The President of the Court, at the announcement of the decision, indicated that it was “an organised attack against the Mayor”.
The three that have been arrested during a ceremony in commemoration of the Greek Pontian Genocide were charged with grievous bodily harm, aggravated damages and breaching peace. The fourth, a 17-year-old, will be tried in a juvenile court in October. According to his lawyer, the youngster has expressed regret over the violent incident and is prepared to issue a public apology.
As Boutaris testified, he is convinced the attack was pre-organised, a claim that is confirmed by video footage recorded minutes before and after the attack. According to local media, two of the sentenced assailants attempted to contact Boutaris prior to the trial in order to express their remorse although the 75-year-old Mayor refused and they only spoke with his associates.
Same sources indicate that the lawyer of another of the attackers, who is also charged with smashing the window of the Mayor’s car offered to pay damages, although Boutaris pointed out that this is not a personal issue on which he can decide as the car belongs to the Municipality of Thessaloniki. “Let them contact the municipality and pay, and let the court judge if that action can be taken into account in issuing the verdict”, said the Mayor.
The first of the two 20-year-olds said his actions were wrong and characterised his behavior as “unlucky”. “I am a Pontian and I attended the ceremony to honor the Pontian memory. I saw people booing at a person and I approached to see who that person was. I was carried away by foolishness and because of young age”, he said after confessing his actions. The father of the young man, who is a priest, reported in his testimony that his son was wrong.
For his part, the 36-year-old claimed that he did not know the person against whom the crowd was moving: “I did not know who he was. I made a big mistake and I apologise. I was carried away by the crowd. I heard that the Mayor had permitted the gay parade”, he said adding that he during the attack he was in drugs.
The third defendant pleaded his young age to justify his actions, adding that he was also carried away by the crowd, while admitting he is the one who smashed the Mayor’s car window.
According to local website voria.gr, one of the hooded assailants is a member of the Golden Dawn Youth Front. Moreover, Golden Dawn MP Ilias Kasidiaris reportedly contacted him to express his support and offer his assistance. The family of the 20-year-old assailant, however, denies the youngster’s connection with Golden Dawn.
The Mayor of Thessaloniki had been hospitalised with head, back and leg injuries after being beaten upon by a mob of far-right extremists during the annual ceremony in commemoration of the Greek Pontian Genocide held in front of Thessaloniki’s landmark, the White Tower.