07 December 2010
Charges against three Greek human rights activists who were on trial for criticizing biased judges who had acquitted the notorious Holocaust denier Konstantinos Plevris (pictured) have been quashed. A three-judge panel on Monday unanimously found in favor of the activists of the AntiNazi Initiative, an Athens-based group founded in 1997 that fights hate in Greek society. They were on trial for speaking out against the judges who acquitted Plevris, an open admirer of Hitler and the Nazis, despite crude anti-Semitic statements in his book ‘Jews: The Whole Truth’.
The president of the Athens Jewish community, Benjamin Albala, a member of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, expressed his satisfaction with ruling. "The outcome shows that the brave human rights activists of the AntiNazi Initiative were right when claiming that in the previous trial some court officials were biased," Albala said. One of the appellate court judges who had acquitted Plevris, Marianthi Pagouteli, has published anti-Semitic remarks on her blog, according to the Greek daily newspaper ‘Elefterotypia’, including "f. Jews I wish Hitler had exterminated you completely."
Plevris has repeatedly called Jews "subhuman" and said that "our race's instinct for survival points to the way of war to the death against Jewish Zionism.” Plevris was found guilty by a Greek court in 2007 of inciting to racial hatred through statements made in his book and condemned to 14 months in jail for “racial insult” and “incitement to hatred and racial violence” on the basis of the 1979 anti-racist law. However, the Supreme Court later acquitted him of these charges.
The Prosecutor's Office in Athens started legal action against the three for publicly denouncing certain judges who had participated in the proceedings against Plevris. The AntiNazi Initiative, the Greek Helsinki Monitor and the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece had initially sued Plevris for incitement to racial hatred and violence against the Jews. Plevris sued senior members of the Central Board, several journalists and the human rights activists for libel after he was acquitted by the Greek Supreme Court.
The World Jewish Congress (WJC), which had raised the issue with senior European Union officials, welcomed the acquittal. WJC Deputy Secretary-General Maram Stern declared: “We are glad this travesty is over. It was shocking to see that some in the Greek judiciary seemed to agree with the anti-Semitic thinking of Plevris and wanted to silence those that had the courage to speak out and defend the Jewish community in Greece against this hatemonger.”
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