NEWS

Calls for probe on Thessaloniki 5

The government and judicial authorities came under renewed domestic and international pressure yesterday to grant bail to seven men detained for over five months pending trial for participation in the June 21 anti-EU riots in Thessaloniki. Five of the suspects are in a near-critical state after weeks on hunger strike. The Amnesty International human rights group wrote to Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis demanding an independent investigation into allegations that the suspects were mistreated in detention, and that at least one was arrested on fabricated evidence. A group of 28 left-wing Euro MPs also expressed concern, as did Synaspismos Left Coalition and the Athens Journalists’ Union. At the same time, lawyers and doctors said five of the suspects – who have refused food for up to 63 days demanding an end to their detention – were barely clinging to life. «Last week, doctors gave us a time limit until the end of this week,» lawyer Christos Ladis said. «Theoretically, they could die at any moment.» Ladis represents the two Spanish hunger strikers, Carlos Martin Martinez, 25, and Fernando Perez Gorraiz, 22. The others are Briton Simon Chapman, 30, Syrian Suleiman Dakduk, 34, and Greek Spyros Tsitsas. The five were arrested after riots by anarchists and anti-capitalists that caused over a million euros in damage to Thessaloniki shops, banks and cars as EU leaders wound up a summit meeting in Halkidiki. Tsitsas’s lawyer told Kathimerini that a prosecutor’s decision on Monday not to grant bail to the «Thessaloniki Seven» was «inexplicable and groundless.» Amnesty International noted allegations that the detainees were ill-treated by police and initially denied access to medical care, and urged «a thorough, independent and impartial investigation.»