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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 30, 2018 - Volume 46 Issue 48
Greek LGBT activists charge police cover-up in murder of Zak Kostopoulos
Section One
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Greek LGBT activists charge police cover-up in murder of Zak Kostopoulos

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Greek LGBT activists are charging local police with a cover-up in the murder of drag performer and activist Zak Kostopoulos.

Kostopoulos - also known by his stage name, Zackie Oh - was killed in downtown Athens on September 21.

According to witnesses, he fled into a nearby jewelry store when a brawl broke out on the street and became trapped in the store when its security door closed and automatically locked behind him.

When he broke a window trying to escape, the storeowner and the owner of a neighboring store beat and kicked him into unconsciousness.

Videos show medics and police arriving on the scene. Kostopoulos received first aid but fell and knocked over a café table as he tried to walk away. Police then jumped on Kostopoulos's prostrate body, handcuffing him and dragging him to a waiting police van.

Police subsequently said Kostopoulos was a known drug addict and had tried to escape the scene before they could question him about the alleged 'vandalism' to the jewelry store.

The police version is refuted by the official coroner's report, however. According to the coroner, Kostopoulos died of cardiac arrest resulting from the physical injuries he received during the assault. His toxicology report also came back clear of any illicit substances.

Since September 21, LGBT activists and Kostopoulos's family have called for a more thorough police investigation of his death. They have also called for an end to what they have called a 'media witch hunt' branding Kostopoulos as a thief and junkie.

The coroner's report sparked new demands for authorities to investigate Kostopoulos's death as a murder. When the report became known, thousands of activists hit the streets of Athens in a demonstration calling for 'justice for Zak.'

'Today we mark two months since the brutal murder of Zak in the center of Athens,' Kostopoulos's friend Zoe Kokalou told Gay Star News at the demonstration.

Kokalou is a member of the group Justice for Zak/Zackie, which has accused police of 'an unprecedented operation of covering up the murder, misinforming the public, and revictimizing the victim...

'During this period of time, we are witnessing with great grief how Zak is constantly defamed. Police, instead of investigating the accused for murder, investigates the victim himself as suspect,' Kokalou said.

'We appeal to all people who were present in the site of murder to come and testify in order for Zak's memory to be vindicated.

'Their testimonies will also ensure that there will be no more victims. We appeal to the Greek government to investigate all potential responsibilities for Zak's murder whether these are related to the police or the first responders that did not provide him with first aid in the place of the attack.'

Kokalou's group charges that Kostopoulos's murder 'was an act of barbarism and growing fascism.'

Greek police are often linked to the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, now the third-largest political party in Greece. LGBT activists have charged Greek police with failing to investigate gay bashings, and even of standing by and watching while LGBT people are assaulted by neo-Nazis.

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