A group of protesters stormed the Greek consulate in Melbourne, Australia to call for justice over the death of LGBTI activist, Zak Kostopoulos.
Two jewellery shop owners allegedly beat the 33-year-old Kostopoulos to death in Athens on 21 September.
LGBTI communities around the world mourned his death and celebrated his life as a LGBTI and HIV activist. The Athens-based Kostopoulos also performed in drag under the name of Zackie Oh!.
Controversy surrounded his death as police and media quickly labeled him a ‘junkie’ thief and that the shop owners simply defended their store when they assaulted him. Media also reported that Kostopoulos carried a knife during the incident.
But a video of the incident emerged and quickly went viral.
It shows Kostopoulos inside the jewellery shop for an unknown reason, trying to get out using a fire extinguisher to break the window on the front door. Two men outside throw something at Kostopoulos which appears to hurt him because he staggers to the side.
When he can’t break the front door, the activist tries to climb through a the bottom window of the shopfront.
As he tried to crawl out, two men are seen to kick him violently forcing Kostopoulos to retreat. But the men drag him out onto the street where they continue to assault him. One man can be clearly seen stomping on the back of Kostopoulos’ head, smacking it onto the concrete.
A bystander steps in to stop the beating, but Kostopoulos is immobile on the ground. Crowds gathered during the incident and watched it unfold in the busy district of Omonoia, in central Athens.
A paramedic eventually tends to Kostopoulos who gets up in a panic and tries to run away. He staggers down down the street before police apprehend him and start beating him with their batons.
Outcry over police investigation
Kostopoulos was pronounced dead on arrival to hospital and the two men have been charged with ‘bodily harm leading to death’.
But the prosecutor for the Supreme Court of Greece, issued an order to investigate the possibility of Kostopoulos’ death as a hate crime.
Media and activist groups have campaigned since his death to ask for a renewed police investigation. They have also accused police of shoddy and discriminatory work.
The protesters stormed the Greek consulate in Melbourne on Wednesday. Melbourne has a very big Greek diaspora which is the biggest Greek population outside of Greece.
They called for renewed investigations into Kostopoulos’ death.
‘Despite the CCTV footage exposing major flaws in their story, the Greek police with the assistance of the news media still persisted in trying to portray Zak’s attackers as helpless store owners trying to protect their property and to frame Zak as a violent, drug addicted thief, therefore deserving of his death,’ the anonymous group said in a statement.
‘Zak’s murder is just the latest in a series of killings of young radicals in Greece where the State, the police and the media have all acted in complicity with the murderers.’
In ‘a small gesture of international solidarity and in memory of Zak’, the group tried to enter the Greek consulate in Melbourne. Security stopped them from getting in, instead the group took ‘solidarity photos’ at the front of the consulate building.
They posed with banners that read ‘Vengeance For Zak’, ‘Justice For Zak’ and ‘Stop State Murder’.
‘We also stenciled the surrounding area with the slogans ‘Vengeance For Zak’, ‘ACAB’ (all cops are bastards) and ‘Queer Riot’. Some posters about Zak were also pasted up around the location,’ the group said.