The ruling by Supreme Court Prosecutor Dimitris Linos demanding an
inquiry over the conditions of arrest and detention of the seven
anti-globalization demonstrators who have been jailed pending trial,
touched a very crucial aspect of our democratic system.
political background of the accused is of no importance whatsoever.
What is crucial, rather, is that the very essence of democracy is based
on the recognition of individual freedoms and legal rights for all
their critics included. It is based on the principle of legality and
the rule of law without any concessions. And, finally, it is pervaded
by an inherent skepticism over bestowing too much power on the police
authorities a concern which is prompted by the knowledge that
overconcentration of power breeds authoritarianism. All these have been
traditionally regarded as the foundations of liberal democracy, as its
core and criterion of classification. They are the reason that we
fought against the totalitarian practices of Socialist regimes; they
are the premises of open societies in the West.
Because of the
significance of these premises, Lianos’s intervention must prompt an
in-depth investigation into the case of the six inmates. Why has their
trial been delayed? Was their remand ordered in line with the
last-resort principle? And, most crucially, has there been a full
investigation as to whether the police planted evidence to frame the
protesters, a charge which seems valid in the case of Simon Chapman? We
should not disregard this as a small offense or as a sign of police
zeal. Instead, we must conduct a comprehensive investigation in order
to track down anyone involved. This cannot be the work of a low-ranking
police officer. If the charge is verified, the perpetrators must be
ejected from the police body and be prosecuted.
Demands of the
time do not legitimize the transformation of policemen into despots nor
overreaction and the undermining of legality.
Three people who
had been arrested for violent episodes during the Polytechnic
anniversary were released yesterday. How will the Greek State react if
Chapman and the other protesters are found innocent? How will it
respond should it turn out that the evidence against them was
Individual liberties and civic rights are not a detail or secondary provisions that can be ignored at the State’s will.
a country where democracy has experienced decades of difficulty, this
should be obvious to every state functionary. The badge of democracy is
not awarded by arresting terrorists but by showing deep respect for the
rights of the suspects.