Local government unionists reported the existence of a far-right cell named ‘Group K’ that functions in a para-state fashion and is in co-operation with Greek police.
Local government unionists from the Municipality of Athens reported the existence of an organised cell of Golden Dawn in the force of Municipal Police of Athens, active under the codename ‘Group K’. One week after the death of Senegalese immigrant Cheikh Ndiaye while being chased in Thisseion [Athens] by a group of municipal police officers, the Union of employees in the Municipal Authorities published an angry statement where for the first time they reported the existence of a Golden Dawn cell in the municipal police force. They also reported that 15 members of Group K, bullied one of their colleagues that spoke out against them during the meeting of the general assembly of municipal policemen on the 5th of February: “The group is known and tolerated by the Local Authority of the Municipality of Athens; they enjoy special privileges and specialise in the area of ‘illegal trade’ [an area that mainly involves immigrants]. They are also engaged in joint operations together with the Greek police”.
However, the only response to this indictment came from the Union of Municipal Police Officers that rejected the above allegations regarding the general assembly calling them “ridiculous and fake” without making any comments about ‘Group K’ . The Mayor’s office and the public prosecutor made no public announcements and took no actions until now in order to investigate this important issue. This is where we started our reportage from.
The newspaper firstly came in touch with the president of the union of employees of the municipal authorities, Charalambos Vortelinos: “The incident took place exactly the way we described it: one of our colleagues was attacked by organised members of Golden Dawn that is part of the ‘Group K’ cell. Our colleague is now in fear, as you can imagine. Golden Dawn has a strong group within the municipal police, maybe up to 150 people. They cooperate with the Police in pedestrian and motorbike patrols”.
Eleni Portaliou, head of the ‘Open City’ municipal party, adds: “We have been informed about the existence of this group, too. We have been told that they act along with the Police and we do have some information regarding violent behaviour and harassment of immigrants selling products in the streets”.
The information given to our newspaper by Petros Konstantinou, member of ANTARSYA party and the Municipal Board was more striking and specific He sent us a lengthy report about the group’s profile where it appears to be acting in para-state state-fashion, according to Konstantinou’s research. “The group has active for a long period informally, without being subject to the Municipal Police’s rules of conduct and hierarchy. It is clear that the group has been tolerated by the previous as well as the current Deputy Mayor in charge”.
Several people, in their vast majority neo-Nazis of the Golden Dawn and other fascists volunteered to join the group. Group-K is a group of municipal police officers from the 1st Department. It was founded right after the far-right party LA.O.S. launched its “STOP illegal commerce”, which developed into a racist manhunt in Ermou street with right-wingers carrying sticks and beating immigrants. Right after the mayor’s G. Kaminis decision to have the municipal police to act along with the Police against “illegal commerce”, Group-K was first set up with 30 people taking part, without even having someone in the hierarchy of the municipal police to refer to. Recently, they got a supervisor”.
According to Konstantinou’s research, Group-K was founded by volunteers, since most municipal police officers did not want to take part in the police raids against immigrants. Konstantinou tells us that the specific group has been frequently involved in fights with immigrant street vendors in Thisseion area and outside ASOEE University and that he cannot rule out the possibility of the involvement of this group in the case of Ndiaye’s death last week: “If one carefully examines the area of action of the 1st department of the municipal police, that is the centre of the city, and ‘Group K’s’ link with that, then it is difficult to rule out such a possibility”.
One of the police officers that, according to witnesses, were chasing the Senegalese immigrant Cheikh Ndiaye forced another immigrant to carry the his confiscated merchandise on his own and put in the police van, while the officer was watching and pushing him. The use of motorbikes in their last operation in Thisseion area is very similar to the way police officers of ‘DIAS’ group use their bikes when they raid against immigrants, and is very different from the way that municipal police members use them when confiscating merchandise. Who has trained them in such raids?”
They don’t know
“The department of municipal police against illegal commerce is indeed located at the 1st municipal department of Athens; however municipal police officers that serve there change every now and the. There is no ‘Group-K’ in our chart. Mrs Portaliou and Mr Konstantinou keep targeting us repetitively and systematically, and last week they called us ‘murderers’” said Mr Apostolos Kossyvas, president of the Union of Municipal Police Officers. “I am categorical: there is no such group, we are 1,000 employees and it’s obvious that there are differences amongst us in our political views. Regarding what Mr Konstantinou says about the union, this is because soon we are having elections in our union“. Mr Kossyvas insists that it is not only the existence of such a neo-Nazi group that has never come to his attention, but not even members of Golden Dawn [within the municipal police].
Giorgos Anagnostopoulos, deputy Mayor in charge of the municipal police issues, told our newspaper: “I cannot rule out the possibility of the existence of such fascist group, when there is such a party in the parliament. I am personally not aware of anything like this and I am asking who ever has such evidence to give it to us, even today. In municipal police there is a clear division of duties and chasing down the illegal commerce is one amongst them. We do not arrest and we do not interrogate civilians however”.
Concerning the bullying accusations about the general assembly of the municipal police members, it would be inappropriate for the Deputy Mayor in charge of the municipal police to get involved in the Union’s internal issues. The municipal authorities are firmly devoted to defending human rights and it was only a few days ago that they officially saluted the event ‘Athens: an Anti-fascist City’. For these reasons I repeat: give us specific evidence. You will help in fighting this phenomenon”, the Deputy Mayor adds.
The Mayor’s response
We attempted to get in touch with the Mayor himself; however Mr Kaminis did not want to make any comments before the specific accusations become disclosed to the public. He told us nevertheless, via his Press office, that he “always pursues unanimity amongst the ‘constitutional’ forces in the city council. The authorities have also conducted seminars for municipal police officers over immigrant issues and that the Mayor has asked from the Deputy Mayor in charge to be strict in issues of discipline and rules of conduct within the force”.
[Translated from ‘Efimerida ton Sintakton’ newspaper, 14/02/2013, found online at: http://www.efsyn.gr/?p=23756]