The head of the Greek Police force's internal affairs department told reporters on Friday that the injuries of four robbers detained after a double heist near the northern city of Kozani last week were sustained during their arrest, rejecting claims that police officers tortured the four men in detention.
The injuries occured during a physical struggle between officers and the four robbers, Panagiotis Stathis told a press conference during which a video was played showing three young men sitting on the ground, their faces apparently bearing injuries despite being partially obscured by hoods, and an an armed policeman standing in the foreground. Stathis noted that the policemen involved in the arrest were all «well-built» and evidently more muscle-bound than the young suspects. Police photographs of the four suspects, bearing heavy bruises to their faces, prompted an outcry in the media and by rights groups. Indications that some of the photographs were doctored, to conceal the presence of police officers’ hands constraining the suspects or to tone down the bruising, provoked strong criticism.
All four robbbery suspects have been linked to the urban guerilla group Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire, while police believe the young men could be the perpetrators behind a bomb blast at The Mall shopping and entertainment center in northern Athens in January. Last week jailed members of Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire said the four young suspects were not members of their group.