The assassination of a man inside his office right in the heart of the capital, apparently by perpetrators posing as clients (authorities said the two men who entered the building had an appointment with the slain lawyer, Michalis Zafeiropoulos), marks yet another step into unknown territory.
Every crime has its own particular characteristics and all sides need to be cautious in their comments and assessments until the ongoing police investigation has come to a close. Details about Thursday’s crime will be announced by the authorities in due course. What remains is endless sadness and incalculable cost. First and foremost there’s the grief of Zafeiropoulos’s relatives, friends and colleagues. The cost concerns the impact on his profession and society. Any lawyer dealing with criminal cases will from now on feel greater insecurity and concern. The message, which is conveyed both overtly and covertly, is that crime can occur more and more easily. Lawlessness is gradually becoming the norm. One should be careful about drawing any parallels, but the signs could already be seen in Greek society at large. The only filter and barrier is the respect for, and abidance by, the law. And the fact is that Greece’s leftist-led government has a problem in this respect.
Its attitude has ranged from indifference to toleration. Members of the Rouvikonas anti-establishment group are left to operate unchecked. Similarly, authorities have taken no serious steps to crack down on lawbreaking behavior inside the country’s universities, including attacks on officials who are trying to restore order at the institutions.
But is there a connection between the assassination and the spread of lawlessness across the social fabric? One could argue in favor or against this position. What is certain is that the atmosphere is becoming more and more toxic. There is a growing feeling that we are more and more exposed to criminal forces who are taking advantage of the general impunity. There is a feeling that anyone who wishes to break the law can do so more easily now. Crime is getting out of hand – and in order to deal with it you need a united and solid political system.
The strong-worded statements condemning criminal acts – as we heard following Thursday’s murder – are not enough. Meanwhile, the vociferous confrontation between political leaders is only aimed at party audiences. Such tactics would never attract voters, in fact they only seem to help that contract killer, that paranoid or random murderer. Crime is the wrong kind of subject for political exploitation. It will only lead to more crime.