Student’s apparent suicide fuels new probe, public anger

Police in Ioannina, northwestern Greece, were questioning students and teachers at the local Dairy School on Monday after a coroner deemed that Vangelis Giakoumakis, a student at the school who was found dead after 38 days missing, took his own life.

A police investigation into the disappearance of Giakoumakis had indicated that the 20-year-old had suffered serious bullying at the school. A report by local coroner Theodoros Vougiouklakis determined that the young man died of a cut to the wrist of his right hand on the day of his disappearance, February 6. Other wounds to the student’s face appear to have been wreaked by wild animals in the days that followed, according to the coroner’s report.

The discovery of the student’s body on Sunday – just 800 meters from the school’s premises, close to Pamvotida Lake – caused upheaval in the local community, not least because the area had been scoured by police at the very beginning of the investigation and had produced no leads.

Apart from recalling key witnesses and suspects, including teachers and students at the school, police were also examining the student’s cell phone calls and e-mail communications in the few days prior to his death.

Meanwhile members of the force’s cyber crimes unit are said to have traced the suspected operators of a blog which had featured offensive and derogatory postings about the student. Some of the suspects are believed to be based on Crete, where the 20-year-old hailed from.

A police probe revealed that Giakoumakis had fallen victim to serious bullying, including physical abuse, with compatriots among his alleged abusers.

The discovery of the young man’s body, and the conclusion by a coroner that the death was suicide, prompted an outcry on social media and calls for a stauncher crackdown on bullying at all levels of the education system as well as over the Internet.

Alongside the police probe into the Giakoumakis’s disappearance, an administrative investigation was ordered into the Dairy School. The head of that team, Andreas Athanassopoulos, claimed to have received threats from unionists who allegedly tried to block the investigation.

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