Trials in secret

Trials in secret

Commenting last week on the nondisclosure of the name of the private school where six students tied up a classmate with fishing line and the frenzy concerning personal data in Greece, I wrote that “soon, the news will say, ‘Somewhere, some people tied someone up with fishing line.’”

Now, this nightmarish scenario is part of Greece’s official jurisprudence. With the 1340/2022 ruling of a first instance court in Athens, the independent media outlet AlterThess and its journalist Stavroula Poulimeni were each ordered to pay 3,000 euros in compensation to Efstathios Lialios, an executive at Greek gold mining firm Hellas Gold.

The website in question and the journalist did not publish anything defamatory about the plaintiff or “insult his honor and reputation,” as the law stipulates. They simply made public what the court made public: The executive and former managing director of the company was handed a suspended one-year-and-six-month jail sentence for water pollution by the Polygyros Court of First Instance.

In the ruling we read a summary of Greece’s entire censoring legislation, starting from the Constitution, passing through decisions of the Supreme Court and reaching the processing and storage of personal data. The ruling concludes that the “illegal processing of the personal information of his above criminal prosecution collected [by the journalist] after her intervention in a file, before [the ruling] became final and without his prior consent and permission from the prosecutor’s office, insulted his personality and he suffered moral damage”!

This means that a court decided that the publication of someone’s conviction in a public trial paid for by Greek taxpayers “constitutes an insult to his personality”! If that’s the case, maybe they should not condemn anyone, so that no one is insulted. Who knows? Maybe convicted former Golden Dawn lawmaker Ilias Kasidiaris will sue us for publishing his name, as he did not consent to its publication and his own conviction is also not finalized (the appeal trial for Golden Dawn is ongoing).

Reading the ruling of the judge, Maria Karalis (we hope this is not a breach of personal data too), we must say that it is well substantiated – not based on common logic, but on the censorship imposed by law and previous rulings. As I wrote before, with this kind of legislation and jurisprudence, the only strange thing is that newspapers are not published with blank pages. 

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