On this day in 2018, Zack Kostopoulos was murdered – Call to rally by the Justice for Zack/Zackie group: “We are back on the road for the unjust blood of Zack, for the blood of our sister Zackie, for all the unjust murders that followed”
Noon on September 21, 2018. O Zak Kostopoulos enters her jewelry store Gladstonos street, without its purpose being clear. The videos that have been recorded of him show that he is confused and in a panic.
The owner is seen exiting the store and Zach is trapped inside, unable to open the security door (presumably it closes automatically and opens with a push of a button from the inside or a key from the outside). He tries to break the glass to get out, he doesn’t succeed and finally he crawls into the bottom display case of the shop window.
“Shocking scenes of ‘would-be robber’ brutally beaten by jewelery shop owner”, read the news headlines.
The owner of the jewelry store and another person who manages to break the display case with his head begin to beat him, with kicks, until he collapses, covered in blood, among the broken glasses of the display case. Passers-by watch the attack passively until it collapses, while someone then calls 911.
At least 8 police officers arrive at the scene. During their intervention, they also beat up the already fallen, injured and confused Zak.
The EMS receives him in order to transport him to a hospital, but during the transport he is pronounced dead.
The owner of the jewelry store and the second person who initially attacked him, as well as four of the eight police officers who are recorded hitting him afterward, have been charged with causing death in Zach Kostopoulos’ death.
After his murder, protest marches and gatherings took place in various cities of Greece by a number of LGBTI+ collectives and people shocked by the heinous crime, while parties and organizations issued statements, mainly condemning the phenomenon of self-righteousness and police violence.
The timeline of the trial
The Prosecutor’s Office brought criminal proceedings against the jeweler and another person for the death of Kostopoulos. According to the Civil Procedure, serious omissions were made in the original case file against the two men who kicked Kostopoulos in the head, since there was no mention of the violence of the incident.
Additionally, although there was video of the two men hitting the fallen Kostopoulos, it was not included in the original case file, and according to Kostopoulos’ family attorney, if the video had not been released, no one would have known that Kostopoulos had been severely assaulted.
A later video showed Kostopoulos being mugged while trying to enter a nearby fast-food restaurant to get a bottle of water, while there is testimony from a young woman that she screamed for help before entering the jewelry store, ruling out the attempted robbery scenario.
Toxicology tests on Kostopoulos’ body came back negative for all five categories (opiates, cocaine/metabolites, amphetamines/methamphetamines, benzodiazepines, methadone/metabolites), as well as for alcohol, thus ruling out the scenario of death by drugs.
The investigator of the case, although he has repeatedly requested the sending of crucial information for the course of the investigation, such as the records of the transmissions from the operation centers of the Hellenic Police and the National Emergency Center, two years after the incident he still does not have them .
According to the testimony of the police officers who were present at the incident, Kostopoulos entered the jewelry store with the intention of the robbery while holding a knife, while he attacked with broken glass the EKAB rescuer who had earlier treated his wounds.
The president of the Athens police officers, Demosthenes Pakos, when asked if he thinks excessive force was used in dealing with Kostopoulos by the police, replied that this is the practice followed, while the secretary general of the Special Guards, Stratos Mavroidakos, also claimed the same.
Although the first toxicology tests were clear, the defense of the eight police officers requested a retest of the results, which were double negative.
On February 12, 2019, the victim’s family filed a charge of manslaughter against the defendants, rather than fatal bodily injury, as previously charged.
Also, a manslaughter lawsuit was filed by the victim’s family against the police officers after an Administrative Jury Review recommended the maximum disciplinary penalties for the police officers being investigated.
Outside the court investigation, with the help of the multi-disciplinary investigation team Forensic Architecture another man who was present at the incidents has been identified, but has not been identified by the police. In response to ERT’s question about the inability to identify three men in the video examined by the team, which was announced just one day after the investigator’s request, EL.AS’s response. was that the preliminary investigation is secret.
The trial of the case was postponed due to the measures against the pandemic and finally started on October 20, 2021 with six defendants.
In his statement at the Athens Mixed Jury Court on March 22, 2022, the accused jeweler claimed that he was scared when he saw the victim holding a knife, noting that he acted as a law-abiding citizen and that the kicks he threw at him were “razors“.
The second defendant claimed that he never hit Kostopoulos, but as he was kicking the windows “his head came into contact with my leg». This was followed by the apologies of two of the four police officers who stated that their purpose was to arrest him and hand him over.
Zak Kostopoulos: The court’s decision
The maximum sentence provided for by the criminal code was decided by the Mixed Jury Court, which on May 3, 2022 found guilty by a majority (by 5 to 2) the jeweler (Sp. Dimopoulos) and the broker (Ath. Hortaria), for felony aggravated assault, with two jurors, who sought a conviction for aggravated assault, in the minority.
The bench unanimously rejected the mitigations for the two convicts, with the prosecutor proposing that the sentences should not have a suspensive nature. Shortly afterwards, the court unanimously decided that the sentence should not have a suspensive nature. Hortarias will be immediately sent to prison, while Dimopoulos will be placed under house arrest (due to his age).
The court did not accept the request of the defense to change the charge to manslaughter. The judges, in their decision, essentially accepted the provocative contradictions of the prosecution’s motion to reject a conviction for dangerous bodily harm.
He acquitted the four policemen by a majority of 4 to 3, while two jurors and the presiding judge dissented, who were of the opinion that they should be convicted of grievous bodily harm.
After the court’s decision, crowds of people who felt partially vindicated but not fully satisfied with the verdict gathered in Athens and other major cities in Greece to continue the fight for the justice of Zackie Oh!
Who was Zak Kostopoulos?
Zacharias “Zak” Kostopoulos was a Greek activist of the LGBTI community and HIV-positive people.
Born in the United States of America on August 22, 1985 to Greek immigrants, he came to Greece at the age of seven, left again abroad and returned. Studied acting and marketing. He worked at the “Athens Check Point” (HIV prevention center), volunteered at Positive Voice (Heropositive Association of Greece), while writing articles on the internet, in Antivirus magazine and in Documento newspaper on issues related to human rights, sexuality and HIV.
He was also the president of OLKE. In the municipal elections of 2014, he was a candidate for municipal councilor of Athens with the combination “P.N.OIK.A.”. In recent years she participated in shows as a drag queen in Athens with the persona “Zackie Oh“!
4 years since the murder of Zak Kostopoulos and the struggles continue
As the group states in its call for the gathering on Wednesday (21/9). Justice for Zak/Zackiein which Jacques himself is quoted, “we’re back on the road for Zack’s unjust blood, for our sister Zackie’s blood, for all the unjust murders that followed».
Four years after the brutal murder of Zack/Zackie, feminist collectives and organizations are calling for a memorial gathering on Wednesday, September 21, at the spot where the activist breathed his last, on Gladstone Street, outside the jewelry store that has since closed its doors. social indignation.
As the Justice for Zak/Zackie group states in its appeal, which includes a quote from Zak himself, “we’re back on the road for Zack’s unjust blood, for our sister Zackie’s blood, for all the unjust murders that followed».
““You realize that your strength is precisely this vulnerability. It is the will and the freedom to be you and to continue living being you. The vulnerable you […] Being able to be who you are. And have the courage to keep walking.”
Zacharias – Zack Kostopoulos, Zackie Oh, August 22, 1985 – September 21, 2018
September 21st marks 4 years since Zack, since Zackie was brutally murdered by landlords and police on Gladstone Street in front of dozens of our fellow citizens, who did nothing to stop the carnage and prevent the brutality.
Rage at his loss was followed by mourning, our shared shared mourning for the love that was taken from us. Our anger for the impunity, for their racist hatred, for the cover-up efforts, for the theft of his body and his memory, during the 17 trials that followed the 3-year delay in the start of the trial only intensified. Justice has spoken. It’s time for us to talk too.
On Wednesday September 21st we are back on the road for the unjust blood of Zack, for the blood of our sister Zackie, for all the unjust murders that followed.
We will continue to proudly walk the streets of the city you loved Zach. Unconditionally.
Don’t turn a blind eye to violence and injustice, Zackie has been missing for four years.”
The feminist collective Sabbat, which has been involved from the first moment in the fight for the conviction of Zackie’s killers, also issued an announcement about the course: “Now we also have the court decision for Zack’s killers, where the civil justice ruled that they have no all bodies equal – some of them, especially the weakest, drug-addicted, poor and female are expendable and can be beaten to death in broad daylight in downtown Athens. […] We always stand on the other side of the wash that urban justice attempts by cultivating society’s most conservative and reactionary reflexes, deepening the trauma in our queer, female, excluded bodies that won’t allow it to close. We don’t forget Zackie Oh’s killers and we won’t let it happen to any of us again».
A march will follow in the center of Athens at 7 pm. Similar marches will take place in other cities of Greece.
Photo Source: Intime
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