Simon was amongst 29 protesters arrested during the protests against the EU summit in Thessaloniki in 2003. While the others were released, the seven were held on remand on charges of rioting, possession of explosives and resisting authorities. All 7 say that these charges are false. In Simon Chapman’s case, video and photographic evidence confirm that he was framed. The seven went on hungerstrike between 49 and 66 days in protest against the conditions of their arrest and imprisonment.
The London Thessaloniki Solidarity Group was formed in 2003 soon after the arrests at the EU summit demonstrations in Thessaloniki.
Statement of the London Thessaloniki Solidarity Group – September 19th, 2010 version.
The entire basis of the arrests in 2003, was and still remains, an arbitrary attack upon the demonstrations, where culpability was placed upon those that the Greek authorities sought to make examples of. From the beginning of the process of detention it was clear that evidence of guilt would not even be based upon recognition of legal facts or evidence but by association. In Thessaloniki during those days everyone was guilty, and for the Greek authorities, it was merely the case of charging those either unfortunate to be detained ( then beaten and tortured ) many of which coming from outside of Greece. The 7 which were detained, know as the Thessaloniki 7, consisted of 3 Greeks ( 2 of which were teenagers ), 2 Spanish, 1 Syrian and 1 British. In response to their continued incarceration, a hunger strike began in early September 2003, lasting 56 days and finally leading to the release of all 7 prisoners for humanitarian reasons. The embarrassment of negative publicity, along with the many solidarity demonstrations and actions throughout greece and the world, forced the hand of the Greek state in averting a greater problem of creating martyrs for a burgeoning movement. After the successful release and dropping of bail conditions for the 7, rumours of a re-emergence of the trials again began circulating. This time in late 2007 the initial confirmation for the start of a trial being 8th January 2008.
For this story continues. Simon Chapman from London, UK was found guilty of the following charges in 2008
• Culpable of repeated explosion from which there could result common danger for a human being
• Repeated construction of explosive bombs
• Possession of explosive bombs
• Distinguished riot/rebellion
• Distinguished cases of damages in confluence
He was then sentenced to 8 1/2 years in prison in his absence, with others receiving 5 years, most either being found not guilty or guilty of lesser non-imprisonable charges. Since 2008 the trial has left a legacy with 5 outstanding appeals to the conviction and inflated prison sentences. These appeals – now reduced to 4 defendants after the outcome of an earlier appeal hearing of one of the defendants – again sees 3 of the 5 hunger strikers of 2003 appear in court including Simon Chapman.
At this stage, with just under a week left before the beginning of the trial (the trial begins on September 24th in Thessaloniki ) , the fact remains, that what we are fighting now is the same process of repression that we fought successfully in 2003. In Simon’s case especially, documented video and photo evidence clearly shows MAT riot police plant molotov cocktails in black bags and strap them to his body. Simon has maintained, and which photographic evidence illustrate, that he was carrying a light blue rack sack with nothing more than water bottles. This blatant attempt to artificial manufacture culpability remains a reflection of the nature of these trials.
We therefore express our solidarity to the 4 defendants facing the courts and prosecutors of the Greek state, and reaffirm our commitment to fight in solidarity with them.
Our commitment for the freedom of the Thessaloniki 4!
Solidarity and dignity against repression!
London Thessaloniki Solidarity Group – September 19th, 2010
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