Police silent in Greece on migrant's jail ordeal


Greek police have said they are unable to answer questions relating to the detention in a police cell for four days of an Egyptian man who was the victim of an apparently racist attack because the issue is now before the courts.

As reported in the The Irish Times on Tuesday, earlier this month, Walid Taleb (29) was abducted and tortured by the baker, for whom he worked, in an 18-hour ordeal in a stable on the Greek island of Salamina. Mr Taleb, chained during the attack, said the baker, his son and two accomplices threatened to kill him and bury him in the outhouse.

Mr Taleb, who is an undocumented migrant from Egypt, managed to escape when his tormentors left to open the bakery the following morning.

He was then taken to hospital for treatment but medics said there was no need to keep him in. Police then subsequently kept him in a cell with criminal suspects at Salamina police station for three nights, before taking him to Athens central aliens bureau, where preparations were made to deport him to Egypt.

The Irish Times submitted five questions to the police press office on Monday but was told that the queries would have to be resubmitted via the government’s information and communications secretariat, formerly the press ministry, and that it would take two days to respond.

Among the questions were why Mr Taleb was kept in police custody and why he received no medical attention during that time.

Two days later, the police claimed that as his case had been forwarded to an examining magistrate they could no longer comment on the case.

“The press office of the Hellenic Police has just informed us that the case . . . is no longer in their jurisdiction, since the brief has already been filed to the district attorney’s office,” an email from the information secretariat stated. “So, they won’t be able to answer your questions.”

Unprovoked harassment

However, on the morning that the newspaper’s questions were submitted, the police press office discussed the facts of the case off air to a morning news show after Mr Taleb, who was finally admitted to hospital six days after his ordeal, spoke to the programme.

“We spoke to the press spokesman of the Hellenic Police and he confirmed everything that his [Mr Taleb’s] Egyptian interpreter said,” a presenter on Mega TV announced after the interview.

Human rights groups have strongly condemned the police’s treatment of the victims of racist crimes.

“Many undocumented victims we interviewed said they did not seek assistance from the police because they feared detention and deportation, and many others who never approached the police cited the experience of friends who tried to report crimes and had been turned away or ill-treated,” said Eva Cossé, who monitors Greece for an NGO.

Yesterday, the US embassy in Greece warned its citizens of “a rise in unprovoked harassment and violent attacks against persons, who because of their complexion, are perceived to be foreign migrants”.