A triumph for The Athens Review of Books: Our review has appointed the President and two vice presidents of the Greek Supreme Court




The Athens Review of Books had predicted who would be appointed to the presidency to the presidency of the Greek Supreme Court for civil and criminal affairs (Areios Pagos) since early May, when the court published the infamous, and damning for us, decision 697/2017, that upheld the preceding ridiculous Appeals Court decision 4034/2015. There was no way, we argued, that such high ranking judges would risk such ridicule without expecting to receive something very substantial in return. And today we can clearly see what all this was about: three of the five judges that were part of the court that tried our case were appointed by the government to preside over the “independent justice” (as it is understood by the current government): The new President of the Supreme Court for civil and criminal cases Vassilios Peppas and the two Vice Presidents (Penelope Zontanou and George Lekkas).

Judges Peppas, Zontanou and Lekkas, assisted by another two cooperative Supreme Court Judges (Thomas Gatzogiannis and Aggeliki Tzavara), published the said decision just a few days before Vassiliki Thanou made the transition from the presidency of the Supreme Court to the legal office of the Prime Minister. The trial was about a libel suit that had no real legal base and that was filed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs N. Kotzias against the Athens Review of Books, because supposedly we hurt his (Stalinist) honor and good reputation. The Appeals Court decision brutally violated every principle of reason, law and seriousness. Among other nonsense the verdict “argued” that calling somebody a “Gauleiter of Stalinism” means that that you call him to be a “Nazi”, that our plaintiff was “one of the founders of the Greek Communist Party” (!) and that while indeed he was one of the leading members of the Stalinist Greek Communist Party, it was not proven that he was an admirer of communist regimes. The court provocatively ignored the literary works of this hardline Stalinist we submitted, like the one he co-authored with the “Rehbein” of Stasi.

The above-mentioned judges of the Supreme Court knew all these facts. By uphelding such an absurd Appeals Court decision the newly appointed President and the Vice Presidents of the Supreme Court clearly spelled out their intentions – in spite of the fact that they made numerous spelling mistakes Thus the complicity of the Supreme Court Judges of this particular trial armed the hands of our plaintiff with an irrevocable title to execute, and since then he has been striving not only to shut down the Athens Review of Books, but he has also been using this scandalous court decision to slander the ARB as well as the “Vasilakis pair” as he calls us.

The perpetrators of the Supreme Court Decision 697/2017 cannot even claim ignorance as an excuse given that the written rapport of P. Zontanou spelled out all the principles of law, reason and European law that the shameful Appeals Court decision violated. But somewhere along the way – Miraculously! – even the judge-rapporteur voted against her rapport, making her guilt self-evident. The attraction of the presidency and the vice-presidency proved to be strong enough and able to silence any resistance voiced by the conscience of our judges. In the case of Ms. Zontanou it was even strong enough to overcome self-ridicule. Thus our new President and Vice Presidents of the Supreme Court, with the complicity of the other two surely honorable judges, took in good Stalinist fashion a unanimous decision that is totally unsubstantiated and that condemns us. They shut their eyes in front of the most solid pieces of evidence, they shut their ears to the screams of the reality presented in front of them. Cynically they acted as executors of the freedom of speech. They proved that they are fit to serve a regime of Kotziades.

Therefore the government needed not worry for one instance when selecting Peppas, Zontantou and Lekkas. They had just passed their test with flying colors. The only inconvenience was that the government had to wait for its preferred president to fulfill a technical prerequisite, which is having served four years plus one day on the bench of the Supreme Court, before he could be launched on his way to the presidency. There was no effort even to keep the slightest pretext!

This unjust decision will inevitably lead to the condemnation of Greece by the European Court of Human Rights. This will be one more among many such condemnations, given that numerous Greek judges are still unwilling to accept that we belong (this is obligatory!) to the European legal civilization.

We state that we will use any domestic and European legal tool at our disposal in order to defend our society against blatant cases of mistrial like this one, and that happens to have as a victim the Athens Review of Books. We will stand up to defend the freedom of speech in Greece. The fiscal troubles are not the main problem of this country. It is the Archipelago of Injustice that enables the said torturers and executors of the freedom of speech, of the freedom of thought, of any conscience and even of Justice herself to proclaim:

«Even though it was proven that the plaintiff [: Foreign Minister N. Kotzias] was a founding member [!] of the Greek Communist Party» [which was founded in 1924 whereas the Minister was born in 1950], «neither is it proven from the documents that the defendants have submitted to the court that he admired the stated absolutist regime [i.e. Honecker’s, which was in fact totalitarian, not absolutist] nor that he advertised it».

This phrase already forms a vast and irremovable stain on the legacy of the Greek Supreme Court (Areios Pagos). Future generations will simply have to shrug it aside arguing that «this decision was issued during the time of Thanou and Peppas».

Athens 18.9.2017



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