Zak Kostopoulos, a queer activist and human rights defender in Greece, died on 21 September 2018 following a violent attack. Also known by his drag stage name Zackie Oh, Zak was a tireless defender of the rights of LGBTI people and HIV-positive persons.
Eye witness video footage shows Zak was brutally beaten by two men after entering a jewellery shop in central Athens. Footage then shows Zak lying on the ground seriously injured and unable to move, surrounded by police officers. The video show police officers violently attempting to arrest Zak and one officer kicking him. According to the forensic report, Zak died from the multiple injuries he sustained.
Zak’s tragic death has devastated his family, friends and the wider human rights community in Greece and beyond. Demonstrations calling for justice for his death have taken place in many European countries.
The criminal investigation into the attack on Zak has now been completed. Two civilians and four police officers have been charged with deadly bodily harm. Zak’s family filed a criminal complaint asking for the two civilians and nine police officers involved in Zak’s arrest to be charged with the higher charge of homicide and four of the officers with torture. Many are concerned about serious flaws in the investigation in a context of persistent systemic failings in investigations concerning cases of police violence in Greece.
Zak’s killing and the initial reporting of the case, filled with stigmatising remarks and reproduction of fake news, revealed the deep prejudice that exists in parts of society. This must not be tolerated.
If we unite our voices, we can get justice for Zak and his loved ones. Sign the petition to the Greek Minister of Justice and Minister of Citizen’s Protection urging them to:
• Ensure all perpetrators of the attacks against Zak and those who contributed to his death are brought to justice.
• Ensure that, in the process of delivering justice, the relevant authorities take into consideration whether there was a hate motive, discrimination or any other prejudice.