Transgender activist harassed by Greek police

June 14, 2013

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (a joint programme of two reputed international NGOs: the FIDH andOMCT) has been informed by the Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) about the police harassment of Ms. Electra Koutra,  GHM legal counsel, in the framework of police profiling operation against transgender persons in Thessaloniki.logo FIDH_seul
According to the information received, in the night of June 4 Electra Koutra was arbitrarily detained at the Democratias Square police station in Thessaloniki, where she had gone in her capacity of lawyer for the Greek Transgendered Support Association (GTSA) to defend a transgender person who was abusively detained for the third time in four days, following an extensive police operation leading to the arbitrary arrest of many transgender persons on the eve of the Thessaloniki LGBT Pride, on June 14 and 15, 2013.

As she was prevented from seeing her client, at 00:25 am, Ms. Electra Koutra called the police emergency to communicate with her client. Subsequently, she was then authorised to enter the station. The police officer on duty then immediately threw her into the police’s station cell together with a number of other detainees without giving any further reason for her detention. Despite Ms. Electra Koutra’s complaints, about ten other police officers encouraged the duty police officer in his illegal actions and taunted her, saying that she “asked to be locked in”. When Ms. Electra Koutra was eventually let out of the cell some 20 minutes later, the officer on duty refused to file her complaint and asked her to leave the police station, shortly after 1am. Ms. Koutra went then, in the middle of the night, to Lefkos Pyrgos (white tower) police station to file a complaint for “torture and other forms of offense to human dignity” (a felony), abuse of authority, unlawful detention, use of violence, abduction, threats, and unprovoked insult with actions. The Public Prosecutor, urgently informed of the incident, refused to arrest the police officers as they were acting while on duty.

Furthermore, on June 10, 2013, Ms. Electra Koutra was informed that a complaint against her was filed by the duty police officer for false accusation and aggravated defamation. The police officer reportedly claimed that he did not put her in the detention cell, but rather “showed her the waiting area outside the detention cells”.

The Observatory expresses its concern about the police harassment of Ms. Electra Koutra, which seems to be merely aimed at intimidating and sanctioning her human rights activities, and urges the Greek Government to carry out a thorough and impartial investigation into the above mentioned acts in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before a competent and impartial tribunal and apply to them the sanctions provided by law.

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