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Prison break a la Grec
by Thanos Kalamidas
2009-02-24 10:48:40
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Over the last few days the whole of Greece has laughed at the latest unbelievable achievement of the Greek government and the security forces. Actually, the Greek police forces have been the target of lot of laughter and tears over the last few months reminding the Greeks that there is something seriously wrong with the foundation of the police and justice system in the country that founded democracy.

So to start from the ‘prison break’ that excuses the title in this article, Vassilis Paleokostas the most dangerous convict responsible for a series of bank robberies and kidnappings and his accomplice Alket Rizaj responsible for murders on top of others, escaped from the highly-secured prison of Korydallos in Athens in a copycat from their former escape with a helicopter that flew over the courtyard of the institution. Perhaps you didn’t notice but I used the word 'copycat' because this was not their first escape from the very same prison but the second and the first happened sometime ago in exactly the same way.

The questions are just too many: how the man managed to organize this and why nobody had thought to do anything the last time he did it. I suppose there will be a series of investigations and most likely a few guards are going to lose their jobs as scapegoats without this meaning that the real guilty are found, you see the real guilty are covered behind ministerial seats and the top positions of the police force. For the ones who follow Greek politics they know that this is just this week’s guff from the police and an incapable conservative government that governs Greece the last five years with a prime minister who has lost any control and the only thing he cares about is his political survival.

But it is not the first time that the police screws up in Greece, actually for long time it seems that there is something going on monthly, if not daily, that makes them the centre of the attention and of course the target of the complaints; obviously the roots of their failure is political. If you remember at the end of the last year a Greek policeman killed a sixteen year-old boy in cold blood causing a series of riots in the centre of Athens and a year before a group of policemen hit a student walking-by in Salonika. In the meantime they failed to do anything about the rising criminality in the big cities and they challenge the public feeling with scandals that include sex and drugs, not rock & roll. Actually even the arrest of the members of the “seventeenth of November”, the left wing notorious terrorist organization, happened by mistake or accident and it was not police work.

For decades, the Greek police became the main instrument of politicians, especially during the military dictatorship of the '60s and '70s when the policemen were the guardians of the dictators becoming instead of servants of the public into the praetorians of a sick and criminal regime. The dictatorship ended by 1974 but the politicians who took over got scared to radical change the status that ruled the police and forty years after the Greek police is ruled under the same ideology, blindly extreme right often fascist, with men and women who think that they are there to protect the ‘tradition’ where the word 'tradition' translates into political prejudice, arrogant stupidity and incapability.

On top of that, a justice system ruled by the same values works as their shield to the state and the people. When the student’s case that was barbarically hit in Salonika came to the court room the judges decided that the only one to blame was a street …jardinière and that despite the witnesses and the photographs, clearing the policemen from any charges. In the last case of the sixteen year-old murdered boy if they were not afraid of the public outcry they would probably blame a UFO for the bullet and there is a very long list of incidents like that.

Actually to join the Greek police and security forces you must be part of the ideology, follow the same political principals and keep them very tied and religiously carefully. So nothing has changed the last forty years and yes there was a small break during the years of the socialist government but that again lasted very little, you see in the beginning they were scared that this might be the end of their status quo but then they realized that even the socialists put their political survival in front of anything else and they were too scared to make the necessary changes.

Of course nowadays with the conservative government the police feel that this is their natural environment and this is where they can show their real face without fear but unfortunately aside their brutality comes their incapability and stupidity as this last escape shown. But the ones who are really responsible for what happens with the police is not their leadership or the well kept status quo but the government that lets them continue doing what they are doing and making things worst this government put in the leading roles people with only virtue their political views and if they are with ‘us’ or not and nothing else! So nowadays the leadership of the Greek police has one and only qualification, the party membership card! Tragic and unfortunately for me this bring bad memories from a period I would never wish to anybody to live.

This moment there are thousands of posts in the internet from Greek bloggers sarcastically and often with humour criticizing the break and despite the fact that the person who escaped is a dangerous criminal the people are laughing at the police and applaud the fugitive. The same happens when it comes to newspapers, television and radio; the government has become the laugh stock for all the Greeks and the prime minister proves one more time for this week that there is only one way for him to follow, resign and go home as long there is still hope!

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Emanuel Paparella2009-02-24 12:25:42
Indeed, as aptly pointed out, what makes the whole episode here reported bizarre is that it takes place in the very cradle of democracy. It reminds me of the famous exchange between Machiavelli and Guicciardini. Machiavelli kept insisting in The Prince and elsewhere that Italians ought to be proud and mindful of their cultural heritage as inherited from the Romans and not tolerate the yoke of foreign domination. Guicciardini’s observation to that notion of Machiavelli was that to compare the Romans to present day Italians was like comparing a noble horse to a braying donkey. How prophetic indeed; when Mussolini fancied himself another Roman emperor, he was exhibiting a shining example of what Guicciardini meant: he was being Roman all’italiana. Presently we have Berlusconi whom Fellini would probably place in one of his circuses as a clown.

Dimitra Karantzeni2009-02-26 17:52:23
While living in Greece, what i can tell for sure is that every particular domain of our everyday lives is conquered by the power of chaos...
Lack of control, interest, hope.
Politicians have managed to disappoint us one more time..

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