Greece. A statement by Pola Roupa. On April 14, 2021 the curtain fell on the four courts that judged the attack of Revolutionary Struggle against the CBE, the ECB branch in Greece and the IMF, an action that took place on April 10, 2014.
The decision to sentence me to 6 years for “simple complicity” in the attack and 3 months for “stealing the car” used in the action, shows the huge discrepancy with the first judicial sentence imposed on me, which was life imprisonment and 26 years of imprisonment. A discrepancy that does not have to do (only) with changes in the penal code, but reflects the distance between the judgment of different courts on the same issues, a distance that is mainly due to the different approaches to the cases that could not but have a political background. The frenzied vengeful attitude of the first two courts that tried me and comrade Nikos Maziotis to the maximum penalty for this action of Revolutionary Struggle is not explained by the existence of the Hun legal fossil of Article 270 of the Penal Code on the explosion, which was enacted in 1969 by the Colonial Junta to impose life sentences on those who chose attacks as resistance against that regime. After all, no post-Junta court has ever imposed a life sentence for any bombing and Article 270 of the Constitution is, in fact, ineffective to enforce its extreme version. Until only two courts imposed life imprisonment on me and Nikos Maziotis, making full use of this legal monstrosity of the Junta for political revenge. Knowing the history of this law, we had repeatedly highlighted it, both in court and in texts we had made public, speaking of the need to withdraw it. The fact that it has “endured” so many years is not due to the negligence of the countless lawyers who have “served” in the legislature since ‘75, but to a conscious political decision, initially due to the explosive “post-coup” social period, in which there were many massive social reactions (riots, wildcat strikes, attacks, etc.). But his extreme version was never applied in other cases in the forty years since the end of the colonels’ junta.
In court during my appeal – following the prosecutor’s proposal – I said that the obsessively hostile attitude of the courts towards us is linked to political pressures on judges, which need not always be direct, but can be formed in a very vindictive political environment created around us by the executive, and which, combined with the personal political attitude of the judges and their personal ambitions for career advancement, form the conditions of the trials as the reasons why the executive and the legislature chose professional judges instead of citizens of the mixed jury to judge dynamic political opponents of the regime, which had been mentioned by I. Manoledakis saying: “…judges, subjected to hierarchical dependence and expecting their professional development within a hierarchically structured body, may be subjected to pressures in the opposite – punitive – direction, which is not the case with lay judges. As for the professional hardening of professional judges, which makes them stricter than lay judges, this, in my opinion, is not an advantage but a disadvantage for the administration of justice.” (“Security and Liberty”)
However, apart from the above reasons, a conscious political attitude of subordination of those courts to the most extreme authoritarian manifestations of the regime’s policy was a necessary precondition for the imposition of the death penalty on us with the “weapon” of the junta a.270 PC. And since this action of Revolutionary Struggle was the only attack that was directly directed against the then Troika and, moreover, at a time when the social reactions against the “memorandums” had ceased, the life sentence was a political attitude of subordination of those judges to the “big bosses”, that is to say, to the lenders of the Greek State, a political attitude of submission to the dictates of the “memorandums”.
My sentence for the charge of “directing”, which had been imposed on me by the court of first instance, was withdrawn since, thanks to a cooler approach to the case by the court of appeal; not only was it accepted that there was no evidence on which to base such a charge, but it was accepted – in principle by the prosecutor – that there can be organizations without hierarchy, without authority, and that such a structure without directors existed in Revolutionary Struggle. This is the third court to make this admission, which is not only due to our insistence over the years in repeating that our organization was not hierarchically structured and that we have an ideological-political problem with vertical organizational structures, but also because we were analyzing the model of social organization for which we were fighting, the extreme society of horizontal structure, equality and direct democracy.
As for the charge of “formation and adherence” to a “terrorist organization,” there was a precedent, so it was impossible for me to be convicted twice for the same charge.
The issue that is of great political importance is that of the right to resistance under Article 120 of the Constitution, which I initially tried to raise in the court of first instance for the attack on the BdE and the IMF, and in a more structured way we did so in the court of appeal where comrade Nikos Maziotis was tried for this action and where I was tried on lesser charges. According to this position, since the “loan contracts” had been declared unconstitutional by several constitutionalists because of the “unconstitutional and illegal conditions” -thus they qualified them- which they imposed, the activation of a.120 S. by the popular right to resist and annul the treaty, which constitutes a constitutional derogation, was a fact. In this context, the attack on the BdE and the IMF was a legal act, an action directed at the “memoranda” and the then “troika”.
In the court of appeal with Nikos Maziotis as the main defendant, we spoke in detail and presented a series of documents with statements of constitutionalists such as G. Kasimatis, K. Chrysogonos, etc., who denounced the loan agreements as unconstitutional and their imposition as an abrogation of the Constitution. We conveyed the positions of UN organizations and representatives who spoke out on the same issue and reiterated the same position, but also of EU politicians who bluntly stated that “European law does not apply to Greece” (e.g. the Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, Pierre Moscovici, in 2014). We presented UN reports and denunciations on the gross violation of human rights in Greece under the “memoranda” (e.g. the UN report on the brutal violation of constitutional and international human rights commitments published on March 7, 2014), on the poverty and misery that had been imposed on the social majority to create conditions of social genocide and that for years after the first loan agreement, nothing changed for the better. All these analyses documented the fact that for years the country was and still is in a state of emergency with the imposition of the memorandum policies in 2010 as a starting point.
The “state of emergency” of Article 25 of the Penal Code (“state of emergency that eliminates injustice”) was included in our positions in the context of claiming in legal terms the exemption of the character of the unjust act of this Revolutionary Struggle action. The vast majority of the country’s population was – and is – in such conditions that constitute a state of emergency and at the same time there was – and is – no other means to reverse this condition, since all the means that were attempted within the regime’s framework of legality (supreme judicial organs, such as the Council of State, international organizations and institutions) to prevent the imposition of the “memoranda”, as they were against the Greek Constitution and European and international law and to reverse this catastrophe were against the Greek Constitution and European and international law. This analysis was the core of our positions and the basis on which we argued that the energy of Revolutionary Struggle and the effort to overthrow the loan contracts by any means was the only way for society to get out of the disastrous course imposed by the State, the EU institutions, the IMF and the transnational economic power. That the only way to reverse the conditions of social genocide, since we continue and will continue for many years under a regime of reinforced surveillance, all the unconstitutional conditions of the “memorandums” remain in force while the debt increases and a new great economic crisis is imminent, was and is the overthrow from below of the economic-political regime of power. Demonstrating that there was no other way than to overthrow the political-economic system of power is a requirement for the application of Article 25 PC (“An act which is done to avoid the present and unavoidable risk by other means is not unjust…..").
Both claims were developed in the courts, with “state of necessity” defining the act for which we are sued as not unjust, while S. art. 120 defines it not only as not unjust, but as a right and a duty. On the question of resistance to constitutional abrogation, it should be noted that the constitution goes beyond the constitution of representative “liberal democracy,” it refers to the whole range of social and human rights that are systematically violated and constitutes the framework for limiting the exercise of state power, a framework which, once the state breaks it, is up to the citizens to react by overthrowing it. The court’s decision states in this regard that our request to bring this action under a. 120 S cannot be accepted because it did not have mass participation and popular support. Specifically, the decision states: “At this point, it should be noted that the defendants Nikolaos Maziotis and Panagiota Roupa claim that their actions and their action in general are lawful under Article 120 para. 4 of the Constitution according to which: ‘The observance of the Constitution remains in the hands of the patriotism of the Greeks, who have the right and obligation to resist by all means against anyone who attempts to abolish it by force’, i.e. they had the right and obligation, as members of the society, to turn against the power of the State, which, with the policy it has implemented since 2009 (memorandums, etc.), violated many Constitutional provisions. The sentence continues. This judgment, despite the fact that our petition was not heeded – after all, what court would dare to do so – reveals much, not only by what it says but also by what it does not say: In essence, first of all it recognizes that there was a constitutional derogation since it does not challenge it and that Article 120 of the S. was activated for the right of resistance of the citizens, that there was a duty of the citizens to overthrow the governments that imposed the memorandums.
This, in itself, represents a qualitative leap in judicial chronicles. It is also a leap in the sense that the judgment says nothing that excludes the specific practice of bombings from the range of the type of resistance that can be manifested. That is, under S. 120 S. bombings with a specific and valid political objective, which would otherwise qualify as “terrorism,” once they fall within the scope of S. 120 S., are not, but constitute, lawful acts. The decision does not rightly exclude these practices, given that resistance under conditions of constitutional dismantlement must be by all means and, in fact, seek maximum effectiveness through its dynamics, which cannot but be violent and by means otherwise considered “unlawful”. Nor does it mention the assertion, which has been made in some cases, that a.120 S. by the phrase “any attempt to overthrow it by force” means only absolute violence and recognizes as practices only military coups, a position which is erroneous since violence is used as a broader concept than absolute violence, a fact confirmed by paragraph 3 of the same article where it refers to “usurpation of popular sovereignty” without including as a condition violent usurpation, but speaks of “usurpation by any means”.
The sentence is limited to the non-massiveness of the action of Revolutionary Struggle in order to consider that the action of the organization cannot be considered legal. That is to say, if we are numerous, it would be. This position, despite the excess apparently taken by the court, is not substantiated anywhere, since in the analyses of the question of resistance under Article 120 S. no restriction has been recorded as to the number and participation of those resisting. Moreover, it is an oxymoron to judge a lawful act or not on the basis of the number of persons participating in it. However, this position of the court ruled that the action of Revolutionary Struggle, insofar as it was not a minority, would be legal, just as the dynamic action of overthrowing the state as a whole under the conditions of constitutional disintegration brought about by the “memorandums” would be legal.
I developed this statement in the recent court of appeal on the attack of Revolutionary Struggle on the BdE and the IMF, trying to answer the “thorny” questions that arise through this statement and insisting that, according to the Constitution itself, the action of Revolutionary Struggle is legitimate. I also stressed that it was the duty of citizens in 2010, when the mass mobilizations against the loan contracts took place, to proceed to overthrow the political system even with armed struggle, a fact confirmed by the analyses on the right of resistance in Article 120 of the Constitution. Characteristic is the analysis of Philip Spyropoulos, who in his “right of resistance” stresses that “the Constitution, moreover, by simultaneously permitting and imposing resistance against the dissolution of the Constitution ‘by any means,’ from the mildest to the most intense, is legitimate……” (p. 125). As for the principles of necessity and proportionality in resistance practices, he says that “exceeding the necessary measure of resistance would be, for example, blowing up a nuclear power plant, but not blowing up a government building during the hours when officials are absent” (p. 119).
This decision of the Court of Appeals has a special significance and I would argue that it also sends a political message. Since we insisted and analyzed with well-founded and valid arguments our claims in court for this action of Revolutionary Struggle and since we had a court decision that – even if as a denial – came close to our claims on the issue of the right of resistance, I can say that the judgments for the attack on the CBE and the IMF acquired a special political weight and importance: They enshrined the legitimacy of Revolutionary Struggle action in the “memorandum” period, they highlighted the legitimacy of revolutionary action in the current period by delegitimizing armed action, and they promoted the legitimacy of revolutionary social change as never before. In this period, while all the terms of the constitution-breaking loan agreements are in force (while the constitutional abrogation remains, as nothing to date has annulled that treaty), while the pandemic revives the economic crisis, the national debt rises to ever higher “peaks”, the world economy sinks into recession and the anti-social conditions of supervision of institutions impose new and harsher interventions to crush labor rights, dismantle the social security system and impose a whole series of changes to support big business and the rich at the expense of the majority of the people, prohibit the increase of state benefits even in the most sensitive sector, health, with the consequent increase of deaths by coronavirus, that is, while society is plunged into a multidimensional crisis that threatens the survival of all of us, the defense of revolutionary action, the defense of the right of the people to resist by all means the power that violates their rights, threatens their dignity and their own survival, even to overthrow it, has emerged in these Courts as the only legitimate and effective way to conquer their dignity, their prosperity, their freedom. To take our whole life in our hands.
To conclude, I quote the words with which F.C. ends his book. “The right of resistance” according to article 4 of the Constitution.