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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 7, 2018 - Volume 46 Issue 49
Greek cops charged in killing of Gay activist
Section One
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Greek cops charged in killing of Gay activist

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Four Greek police officers have been charged for inflicting 'fatal bodily harm' on Gay activist Zak Kostopoulos on September 21.

The four have been given until December 12 to prepare their defense statements, Greek newspaper Kathimerini (The Daily) said.

Kostopoulos, a noted drag performer and LGBT rights activist, was brutally beaten and stomped in central Athens by two storeowners who say they thought he was trying to rob a jewelry store. When police arrived on the scene, they too assaulted Kostopoulos, even though he was clearly injured and bleeding profusely.

Although police subsequently said Kostopoulos was a drug addict and was armed with a knife when they arrived at the scene, the official autopsy showed no trace of illegal drugs in his system. A knife police said they found at the scene had no fingerprints or DNA traces that would link it to Kostopoulos.

Video footage of the incident enabled investigators to identify four policemen who were accused of beating the 33-year-old man while he was lying semiconscious on the pavement prior to handcuffing him.

The coroner determined Kostopoulos died of a heart attack after the brutal beating, Kathimerini reported.

Kostopoulos' family is seeking murder charges for all those involved in his death, including the shop owners who beat him and the police officers. They are also planning legal action against the ambulance services and the police motorcycle unit, whose members responded to the incident. Kostopoulos was born in the US but moved to Greece as a child with his parents, who were born there. He was buried in his ancestral village of Kirra, where he grew up.

At the funeral, mourners celebrated his role in the LGBT community as drag queen Zackie Oh, covering his coffins in glitter, wigs, and tiny rainbow flags.

His friends remembered Kostopoulos as someone who 'loved to help' others and a pioneering advocate for the acceptance of HIV-positive people in Greece.

'His actual name is Zacharias, coming from the Greek word zachari, which means sugar. His name was literally sugar, and he was the sweetest person I've known,' his friend and journalist Christina Michalou told the British website PinkNews.

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