EATG » We call on the authorities to ensure that justice for Zak Kostopoulos is done

We call on the authorities to ensure that justice for Zak Kostopoulos is done

On Friday 21 September, Zak Kostopoulos, died as a consequence of brutal beatings in Athens Greece. Zak was an HIV+, sex positive, queer, human rights’ activist and defender, also raising awareness performing as drag queen Zackie Oh.

 

We are mourning him, shocked at the lynching that led to his death, the way in which the police officers acted and the public discourse that was constructed and spread to legitimise the violence perpetrated.  We have been dismayed at the way in which the investigation has been carried out by Greek authorities.

 

The footage of the attack indicate that Zak was inflicted inhuman and degrading treatment that amounts to torture. We call all relevant Greek authorities for a swift, thorough, independent and impartial investigation into the events so that the perpetrators of the violence are brought to justice. The examination ought to take into consideration the motivation of the perpetrators.

 

We ask for due process and respect for the deceased, who if he were living would be presumed innocent. We call on the authorities to ensure the rule of law and respect for human life so that similar tragic events are not allowed to occur again.

 

See below for a timeline of events and links to relevant materials.

 

#JusticeForZak

#EATGForZak

#ZakKostopoulos

 

For further information, please contact: communication@eatg.org


A timeline regarding the death of Zak Kostopoulos

 

 

The incident took place on Friday 21.9.2018 between 14.00 and 15.00 in the centre of Athens, near Omonoia square.

 

From Friday night media reported that a thief died after trying to rob in a jewelry store. A video surfaced that shows the alleged thief to be beaten up by two unidentified persons while trying to escape the store. On Saturday, it was announced that the person was Zak Kostopoulos, an LGTBI, HIV activist, also performing as drag queen Zackie Oh.

 

Rumours started circulating in Greek media about the person being under the influence of substances, carrying a knife, entering the shop to rob. Mainstream media constructed the narrative of a junkie trying to break in and steal. Fringe media also referring to as faggot, AIDS-patient, ‘he was asking for it’, ‘it served him right’.

 

This is when LGBTI, drag queen groups, community lawyers and civil society actors started to openly question the version provided by media. On Sunday, it was claimed that Zak Kostopoulos had entered the shop to escape a fight at the café nearby by where he was.

 

A discussion that remains low in media priorities: the brutal beating up of a person which amounts to inhumane, degrading treatment and torture as well as self-justice is unacceptable. This discussion is mainly put forth by community and citizens in social media. There is an uproar for media -both mainstream and fringe- publishing polls moralizing self-justice and the right for property over the right for life.

 

There is also a discussion about the fact that the store owner -later identified as one of the person that assaulted- cleans up the broken glass from the pavement, actually counterfeiting the crime scene.

 

On Sunday, one of the two persons who beat up Zak, was put under investigation and has been released under restrictive measures since then. The second assaulter, a neighbouring real estate store owner with links to extreme right groups, was identified on Wednesday and was put under investigation on Friday. He was released under restrictive measures as well.

 

On Monday, the coroners reported that the first autopsy was inconclusive regarding the cause of the death and that toxicological and histological examination results will be available later.

 

On Thursday, a video surfaced showing 8 police men holding Zak down to handcuff him exerting excessive violence. The events in this video follow chronologically those from the first one. The Minister of Citizen Protection -in charge of the police- stated that they will investigate the case thoroughly.

 

On Friday, investigation concluded that there were no fingerprints in a knife that allegedly Zak was carrying. Media reported that a knife was found outside the store and it was thrown in the store after by an unknown person. A witness claimed that it was a food knife that Zak found from the café opposite and used to protect himself while he was held down.

 

On Wednesday 3 October a third video surfaced. This video comes from the CCTV of a store nearby. The events chronologically precede those of the previous videos. It depicts 3 persons bullying Zak in the pedestrian street before he seeks refuge to the jewelry store.

 

On Tuesday 16 October the Prosecutor of the Supreme Court (Arios Pagos), Xeni Demetriou asked for an investigation on the possibility of racist motives behind the death of Zak.

 

On Wednesday 17 October civil society organisations appealed to the Greek Ombudsman’s mechanism for the investigation of incidents of arbitrary conduct in security forces.

 

One month after the death of Zak, his mother Eleni Kostopoulou sends a letter to the Greek PM asking for the just punishment of the people that assassinated her child.

 

On Tuesday 30 October, in response to Zak’s mother letter, the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras stated his commitment:’I am in total agreement with your call for a thorough investigation. Zak’s loss will not be forgotten, at least from all of us who remain dedicated to the fight for societies where human life is the utmost value’

 

On Monday 19 November, the toxicological examination report was published, concluding that Zak was not intoxicated.

 

On Tuesday 20 November, the forensic report was published, confirming that Zak died of acute infraction resulting from multiple injuries.

 

December 2018:

Four cops charged for inflicting ‘fatal harm’ on gay activist Zak Kostopoulos

 

Sources:

 

https://www.thepressproject.gr/article/134723/Distortions-and-cover-ups-in-the-Zak-Kostopoulos-case

http://www.ekathimerini.com/232906/article/ekathimerini/news/forensic-report-on-death-of-lgbtq-activist-inconclusive

http://www.ekathimerini.com/233027/article/ekathimerini/news/police-open-probe-on-officers-conduct-during-arrest-of-activist

https://greece.greekreporter.com/2018/09/26/greek-jeweler-released-on-bail-over-death-of-gay-activist/

http://www.keeptalkinggreece.com/2018/09/27/zak-kostopoulos-police-violence-video/

https://www.news247.gr/koinonia/o-zak-kostopoylos-pethane-apo-ischaimiko-epeisodio.6669048.html

 

news outlets:

https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/gay-activist-dies-athens-after-brutal-public-beating-n913056

https://www.euronews.com/2018/09/26/gay-activist-dies-in-athens-after-brutal-public-beating

 

LGBTQI media:

https://www.out.com/news-opinion/2018/9/26/gay-activist-drag-queen-zak-kostopoulos-lynched-greece

https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2018/09/26/zak-kostopoulos-funeral-greece-mob-attack-gay-activist/

https://gcn.ie/zak-kostopoulos-funeral-celebrates-life-lgbt-advocacy/

https://freedomnews.org.uk/greece-queer-activist-zak-kostopoulos-murdered-in-athens/

 

non-english outlets:

http://plus.lesoir.be/180523/article/2018-09-25/la-mort-dun-activiste-homosexuel-interroge-la-grece-de-lapres-crise

http://www.gaynews.it/primo-piano/item/1584-atene-non-si-placano-le-proteste-linciaggio-attivista-zak-kostopoulos-impegnato-sierofobia-lgbt-queer.html

https://www.cnews.fr/monde/2018-09-26/grece-mort-mysterieuse-dun-militant-gay-795355

Comme une prière : à la mémoire de Zak Kostopoulos

Suddeutsche Zeitung: Tod in Handschellen

Liberation: Zackie Oh d’Athènes sort de sa tombe numérique

Zackie Oh è stata uccisa perché lottava per i diritti lgbtq

 

Statements:

 

Academics:

https://nomadicuniversality.com/2018/09/29/for-zak-the-responsibility-for-our-grief/

 

Healtcare professionals:

https://thepressproject.gr/article/134703/Ugeionomikoi-kaloun-to-EKAB-na-dosei-apantiseis-gia-ton-Z-Kostopoulo

OENGE

 

Greek Civil Society:

http://www.kosmosxorispolemous.gr/deltio-tupou-gia-tin-upothesi-tou-zak-kostopoulou/

Hellenic League for Human Rights

Amnesty International Greece

Appeal to the Ombudsman

 

Journalists and Photojournalists:

240 journalists and photojournalists’ statement

 

Artists:

Artists’ call for Zak/Zackie Oh

 

Videos:

 

https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x6u2h2y

https://youtu.be/CyHUzMgEVnw

This video from the CCTV of a store nearby surfaced at 03.10.2018

Open Call for Audio-Visual Material that captured the killing of Zak Kostopoulos

 

Last updated: 05.12.2018

 

Click here to download the news

You can download an earlier draft of the timeline in German here

 

 

News categories: Human rights, LGBTI