Amnesty International said there should be a transparent investigation into the death last month of a 33-year-old LGBQT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning) activist and the role of police with a video showing an officer among those who kicked him in the head while he was down.
Zak Kostopoulos died after being assaulted and beaten outside a jewelry store in central Athens in what many have described as a homophobic attack although there were contradictory reports he was trying to rob the store or had run inside to avoid an altercation nearby in Omonia Square.
His assailants, the store owner, 73, and a friend, 55, said they had been acting in self-defense, claiming that Kostopoulos threatened them with a knife although there weren’t any reports that one had been found.
Amnesty said what it called the “lynching and murder” of Kostopoulos as well as the witness reports and video evidence that was publicized in the media “shattered all of us.”
“Zak was a human rights and an LGBQT activist, a homosexual, a drag queen and seropositive. He was beaten to death after he entered a jeweler shop … after he was violently trapped,” Amnesty said.
The two suspects face charges of assault and manslaughter, though a coroner’s report said there was no evidence to suggest that Kostopoulos died as a direct result of the beating.
With no names being given, the suspect who was a friend of the store owner said at a hearing he was sorry for the incident and that he reacted out of fear.
Kostopoulos died in an ambulance on the way to hospital after he was detained. A forensic report was inconclusive as to the precise cause of death.
Two coroners and a technical advisor appointed by his family found the body did not bear injuries that would cause death and they are now expecting the results of the histological and toxicological exams to shed light on the case, said Kathimerini.
“The conclusion of the autopsy, on which we and the family’s technical adviser agree on, is that the cause of death is undetermined, pending laboratory test and following the macroscopic exclusion fatal injuries,” Nikos Kalogrias, one of the coroners, said.