THE BLOG
08/07/2013 12:36 BST | Updated 05/09/2013 06:12 BST

Hunger Striker Kostas Sakkas: When Justice Is Blind

While the Greek political system is being plunged into the waters of corruption, immorality and inefficacy and Greeks are reeling under the weight of salary slashes, a rising tax burden and euro zone's highest unemployment rate, hunger striker and anarchist, Kostas Sakkas, continues to be illegally detained, amid growing fears of his deteriorating health.

While the Greek political system is being plunged into the waters of corruption, immorality and inefficacy and Greeks are reeling under the weight of salary slashes, a rising tax burden and euro zone's highest unemployment rate, hunger striker and anarchist, Kostas Sakkas, continues to be illegally detained, amid growing fears of his deteriorating health.

Kostas Sakkas, a 29 year old Greek political prisoner, has never tried to hide his political beliefs. He is a self-confessed anarchist, charged with gun possession and participation to an unknown terrorist group after being arrested at a warehouse in Athens, in December 2010. He admitted his connection to the weapons found in the warehouse and his detention was ordered. Four months later, and while in detention, he was additionally charged of participating in the organization "Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire" (CCF) a charge that he has fiercely denied and no tangible evidence was found that connect Sakkas to CCF. Members of the organization have also made a public declaration stating that Sakkas has never been in their ranks. It is quite odd the fact that the charges against Sakkas, changed from belonging to an unspecified terrorist group-that had no registered activity or a name, and thus, such a charge could not stand up in any courtroom-to participating to a well-known organization such as the CCF, although no specific evidence was found.

According to the Greek legislation, the maximum pretrial incarceration period for any person accused of a crime can be 18 months. In exceptional cases, and provided certain legal conditions are met, this period may be extended to 30 months.

Two months before his 18 months-detention expired, Sakkas was charged once again for belonging to the same organization (CCF) but this time for different incidents. Instead of being released as it is required by the law, he was again ordered to remain in detention. According to the Greek Penal Code, the period of the second pre -trial detention cannot exceed 12 months. However -and against the law-Sakkas was ordered to remain in detention for an additional six months, even when the 12 months second pre-trial detention has been exhausted. In the meantime, his trial for the first and the second set of charges has not even begun.

Sakkas went on hunger strike on June 4th, which marked the day that he was supposed to be released as the Greek law requires. He was transferred to Nikaia General State Hospital and according to the medical report of his treating physician, his life is in danger as he has already lost 15 per cent of his body mass and his heart or other vital organs could fail at any moment.

The Greek government has failed to provide any legal justification on extending Sakkas detention. New Democracy, the leading party in the government coalition, decided to ignore all protests from human rights groups and organizations along with voices from renowned legal experts that have condemned the illegal detention of Sakkas. The right wing New Democracy decided to use the case as a way to attack politically the opposition left party, SYRIZA, stating that Syriza "should, for once, respect institutions and stop defending everyone accused of anarchy and terrorism".

However Sakkas is not accused neither of anarchy nor terrorism, in fact he has not even been convicted of anything.

What makes the situation even more alarming is the fact that Sakkas absurd and irrational detention has received very little coverage in the Greek media. This comes as no surprise, since the majority of Greek media are owned by the country's oligarch families that control the financial sector and have strong ties with local politicians: journalists prefer to keep quiet in the interests of holding on to their pay cheques, even if the price is the death of a young man whose detention was illegally extended.

Behind Sakkas illegal detention, is the tale of a country that is at the grip of authoritarian rule, of a ruling party that decides in a few hours to shut down the national broadcaster ERT, of a coalition government that rules the country with emergency decrees, and whose newly appointed right wing Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis, brought back a regulation for forced testing for HIV on everyone suspected to be sex worker, drug user or undocumented migrant.

Those are issues worth discussing but, as usual, noise is making productive conversation difficult.