Zak Kostopoulos died of a heart attack that was probably induced by trauma during a double beating in downtown Athens in September 2018, the coroner who conducted the postmortem on the LGBTQ rights activist told a court on Tuesday.
“I have seen cases of beatings where the person had a heart attack and died, though this is not common. We did not, however, ascertain any other pathological causes,” coroner Nikos Kalogrias told the court hearing the case against two civilians and four police officers accused of causing the death of Kostopoulos, 33, on the first day of witness testimonies.
“Tests have ruled out other mechanisms that could have led to this,” Kalogiras said, challenging claims by the defense that Kostopoulos may have been under the influence of some substance or had some underlying medical condition that contributed to his death.
Judges had to call a brief recess after the defense challenged Kalogrias’ testimony and said he could not claim to know which injuries were responsible, prompting a heated response from the witness.
“I feel like I’m expected to apologize for the findings of the postmortem… We do our job,” the coroner said.
Earlier, the court heard from a friend of Kostopoulos who had spoken with him on the telephone a few hours before he entered a jewelry store midday on a Friday on Glastonos Street, where he was attacked by the owner and another local man who claim to have taken him for a robber.
Video footage of the incident has also shown Kostopoulos being roughly subdued by responding police officers when he was already on the ground after crawling through the broken glass of the shop’s display window.
“I remember the terror in his voice,” the witness said, telling the court that she had the impression from his tone that he was being pursued or harassed and was eager to appear to be on the telephone. She says she tried calling him several times after he hung up, but got no answer.