google junkie | 22.11.2003 02:56 | Thessaloniki EU
TV shows Briton on EU riot charge 'is innocent'
By Harry de Quetteville in Athens
The lawyer of a British man jailed by Greek authorities after riots during the European Union summit in Thessaloniki in June said yesterday television footage proved his client innocent.
Simon Chapman has been on hunger strike for more than six weeks to draw attention to his case. Under Greek law he can be held without trial for up to 18 months.
He was charged with possession of Molotov cocktails and a hammer after violent clashes between Greek riot police and anti-globalisation protesters at the summit.
But Mr Chapman's lawyer said yesterday television footage taken by two Greek channels and the news agency Reuters showed the charges to be groundless, although he admitted that his client had been involved in "fights" with police.
According to George Ververis, the tapes show Mr Chapman wearing a rucksack that is clearly blue, as protesters clashed with police. Then, he says, footage shows Greek police collecting Molotov cocktails and placing them in a black rucksack. Mr Chapman was charged with possessing a black rucksack containing the Molotov cocktails.
Mr Ververis would not make any formal accusations against the Greek authorities.
"I cannot say that they set him up," he said. "But I can say that the videos all show Simon carrying a blue bag. All three tapes show Greek police collecting Molotov cocktails and placing them in a black bag. They then presented a black bag in the charge."
The Greek supreme court yesterday took the rare step of ordering an investigation of the allegation.
Last night human rights activists held a protest rally in central Athens to condemn the Greek government's treatment of the men they are calling the "Thessaloniki Five" - Mr Chapman and four other protesters on hunger strike.