Greek police officers 'tortured Afghans'

By Elinda Labropoulou in Athens

24 December 2004


Greece has launched an emergency inquiry into allegations that police tortured a group of Afghan immigrants using "Abu Ghraib" tactics at an Athens police station last week.

At least four Greek police officers are accused of inflicting brutal beatings, mock executions and taking naked photographs of up to 30 immigrant men during interrogations.

Doctors from Athens' Rehabilitation Centre for Torture Victims who examined the men confirmed they had received serious bruising, and, in one case, a man was suffering from concussion. Maria Piniou-Kalli, medical director, said "from the clinical examination there is no doubt the beatings amount to torture". She described the ordeal of one of the men: "As two officers were beating the man, a police baton was forced in his mouth, adding a sexual element to the assault. When he fell on the floor two of the officers spread his legs while an other took pictures, with his mobile phone - probably inspired by interrogations of prisoners in Iraq.When the abused man signalled he needed water, one of the policemen opened his mouth and spat in it."

The incident took place in holding cells after dozens of migrants were detained by police seeking information on the whereabouts of another Afghan man who had escaped from custody during a routine verification of his residence permit.

Under Greek regulations the officers would have faced internal charges if they were unable to track down the escapee.

Greece's Public Order Minister, George Voulgarakis, promised that "the guilty parties would be found and punished".