Police planted evidence on ‘rioter’

A British national imprisoned for five months on suspicion of participation in last June’s riots in Thessaloniki was cleared of all charges yesterday and allowed to return to his home after a council of magistrates accepted that police had planted incriminating evidence on him. Together with Simon Chapman, 30, the Thessaloniki Magistrates’ Council ordered that charges should be dropped against another 12 of the 27 people arrested after the June 21 riots, which caused over a million euros in damage to Thessaloniki shops, banks and cars. The riots followed anti-globalization marches held to coincide with the European Union summit meeting in Halkidiki, which marked the end of Greece’s six-month EU presidency. In Chapman’s case, the council accepted the evidence of a video tape showing police replacing the Briton’s blue shoulder bag with a black bag containing petrol bombs. An earlier investigation had found that the video had been doctored. The council commuted the criminal charges against another six suspects to misdemeanor level, and ordered a further investigation into the criminal charges brought against the remaining eight suspects. Only seven of the 28 suspects were detained pending trial after their arrest, in a controversial move that prompted five of the seven – Chapman, two Spaniards, a Syrian and a Greek – to hold a long hunger strike that drew strong local and international attention. They were finally released on November 26, but ordered to remain in Greece until their trial. Under yesterday’s ruling, one of the Spanish nationals, Carlos Martinez, will be tried for a misdemeanor, while the other hunger strikers are among the eight to be further investigated.