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Greek farce – British tragedy

A British mother and her two sons were given jail sentences yesterday, less than four days after they were arrested for allegedly attacking an Athens shopkeeper.

During a four-hour hearing at Athens criminal court the main prosecution evidence was read, with no opportunity for cross-examination. Police statements were contradictory and the British defendants had only five minutes each to state their case.

The family believes it has been the victim of a Greek backlash against the drunken and lewd behaviour of young British holidaymakers on the islands of Rhodes and Corfu.

We are being made scapegoats for the antics of hooligans on some of the islands. There have been despicable occurrences on the islands, but we are not that type of people.

No forensic evidence was presented, although it had been stated that Mr Karamichalous was bleeding heavily after the brothers kicked him.

The metal bar referred to both by the Britons and Mr Karamichalous was not recovered from the scene. Although the Johnsons had been locked up since the early hours of Sunday, officers did not take a statement from any of them.

Their only opportunity to give their side of the story was when each took the stand for about five minutes.

Regardless of the facts of the case, of which I have no detailed knowledge, the speed and manner in which the family of Britons living in Greece were sentenced smacks of political and nationalist gestures. Their prosecution is seen as backlash against the loutish behaviour of British tourists on Greece’s holiday islands. The case has made headline news in Greece where the Johnsons’ story has been illustrated with photographs and footage of British tourists misbehaving on the islands of Rhodes and Corfu.

Blimey! The Greek legal system makes the British courts seem like the pinnacle of civilisation.

13 comments to Greek farce – British tragedy

  • mad dog barker

    Whereas, had two eastern mediteranean assylum seekers, with mother in tow, had been involved in an attack with an iron bar on a British shop keeper – well we might have regarded it as speedy and well deserved justice. For once…

    I don’t agree with backlashes (even the type administered in traditional moslem countries) especially when the people caught up in it are victioms of circumstance. And a Greek jail in summer is no place to be, however much one might like the islands of Mykanos or Lesbos.

    But the argument might equally be applied to other victims of circumstance. There are some people in Iraq/Syria/Afghanistan/et al. that know what it is like to have summary judgements made about them and get bombed by mistake. Hell, even our brave squaddies get shot by mistake. It really is no fun being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And as for kangaroo courts, Gitmo makes Greece look like, err, the very birth place of democracy.

    However, unlike the mother and her poor sons on holiday, those others mentioned above get no chance to appeal.

  • kurt

    barker is yet another person who cannot see why the same tninking cannot apply in a war and in a civilian court in peacetime. with remarks like his and others i cannot say i blame the writers of this blog for wanting to put a bit of distance between themselves and the lunatic element of libertarianism.

  • Brian Micklethwait

    To me, four days sounds about right. Four hours, that would be summary justice. But really, is four weeks or four years something to be proud of?

    The important thing is the quality of the justice, and speed – so long as it is not excessive and caused by the bundling together of policeman, judge, jury and executioner – seems to me to be a virtue rather than a drawback.

    It also surely counts for a lot that, unlike literal execution, an unjust prison sentence can be interrupted and ended. A speedy but wrong decision can be almost completely corrected. (I think that an actual execution only four days after a murder wouldn’t be good, no matter how “obvious” it all seemed.)

    I’m not saying this particular legal process was right on all counts, merely that it was not necessarily so bad on this particular one.

  • A_t

    “barker is yet another person who cannot see why the same tninking cannot apply in a war and in a civilian court in peacetime”

    hmm.. yeah, but i thought until fairly recently we had a set of widely-agreed-upon rules about how you behaved in times of war too.

  • Nancy

    I can’t understand the “lout” behaviour that I know very well takes place all over Europe. Those same louts come to the theme parks, restaurants and surrounding venues in Florida constantly. where they basically behave with civility. They wait patiently in the interminable queues (lines), they reprimand their children for wild behaviour, they are cheerful instead of sullen…it’s a puzzle. It’s not because they are on holiday, because they are on holiday in Europe, as well. It’s not because they have their kids with them, because they’re with them in Europe. It could be the lack of “lads on the piss”, but there are groups of them here, and they generally don’t cause any trouble, either. Maybe it’s the American police and the lack of tolerance for public drunkeness. Whatever the cause, in central Florida, there is a distinct lack of the hooligan problem that seems to plague Europe.

  • A_t

    maybe it’s being able to speak the language; means they don’t feel utterly detached from the local populace, & so are less likely to behave like utter a***holes towards them & their town. I think Brits in non-english-speaking countries often feel they’re somewhere not-quite-real. They certainly seem to act that way!

    I also think that these probably aren’t the same louts; people who’re interested in lying on the beach, drinking lots of lager & pulling ain’t gonna choose florida etc. as their destination. You’re seeing the nice family parties, which’re kinda different.

  • I think what you have to appreciate, Nancy, is that “Greek holiday islands” attract a certain breed of Briton (a kind which will not buy a plane ticket to Florida if he can get a cheaper plane ticket to a seemingly lawless Greek island which features only bars and hotels and doesn’t have silly family-orientated attractions and residential areas getting in the way like they do in Florida).

    In a way I like the idea that most of the louts choose to restrict their range of holiday destinations to Greek islands and other bits of the Mediteranean – at least one knows where not to bother going on holiday and the likelihood of meeting an unpleasant Briton in Florida is significantly reduced.

  • mad dog barker

    I’ll be less curt with Kurt than he with me,

    Suffice it to say that my reasearch proves that there are two types of people. Those who think there are two types and those who do not.

    Kurt seems to believe there should be two types of thinking. Whereas, being a fan of William of Occam, I do not. Or to be more exact I have not found a convincing argument to make me believe that having more than one mode of thought is necessary. Most schitzophrenics, of course, are still in two minds about this last point.

    Tolstoy summed up the essence of this argument in his famous eulegy “War and Peace” in which two distinctly separate sides of the same coin were shown to belong to a greater whole…

    (…continues in this vein for 940 pages…)

  • I was under the impression that the Greek economy was rather dependent on tourism. Perhaps I’m mistaken, but if not… aren’t they being rather self-destructive?

  • Everyone seems to ignore the fact that the family actually lived in Greece, running their own company. They have nothing to do with tourism.

  • Edmund Burke

    A-t wrote

    “maybe it’s being able to speak the language; means they don’t feel utterly detached from the local populace, & so are less likely to behave like utter a***holes towards them & their town.”

    You want to come to Dublin’s Temple Bar on a weekend. It was aptly described in the Telegraph a couple of years back as the most vomited in square mile in Europe.

  • Eamon Brennan

    Pity poor Prague then.

    Apparently its the new “Dublin”.


  • Remind not to go to Greece. Let’s see now: a system of justice devised to allow officers of the state to imprison anyone who they accuse; possible evidence of police brutality and we could be extradited there without any intervention from the British justice system.

    We’ve already seen this with the planespotters. What disturbs me is that not one comment actually addressed the major issue here: that the Greek system of justice is arbitrary and has imprisoned accused without proving their guilt.

    Or am I just old-fashioned that such injustices, whenever they occur, make me angry.