ATHENS – A Greek journalist who was deafened from a flash grenade thrown at him by police while he was covering a protest in 2011 won his case against the state but hasn’t gotten any compensation yet.
The International Press Institute (IPI) said that Manolis Kypraios – one of its members – had to wait almost 12 years for a final verdict, the Administrative Court of Appeals in Athens ruling against an appeal by the government.
A lower court had in May 2020 ruled in favour of Kypraios, identified the two officer in the MAT unit and awarded the journalist compensation for his injuries but the state challenged the decision.
Despite the recent ruling in his favor, the state has yet to pay the financial compensation awarded to Kypraios by the court, leaving him tens of thousands of euros out of pocket, said IPI.
Kypraios, an experienced war correspondent who had reported from conflict zones in Kosovo, the Middle East, the Caucasus and Nigeria, was left permanently deaf in both ears after the riot police deliberately threw a flash grenade in his direction from a close distance as he documented an anti-austerity protest with his camera near Syntagma Square in Athens, the media freedom site said.
He said he had identified himself as a member of the press and showed his identification but the grenade was thrown and caused so much damage he had to twice undergo surgery on his ears and left unable to work.
Kypraios, who is a member of IPI, hailed the ruling as a victory for “democracy, society and freedom of the press,” the organization said.
IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said: “IPI welcomes the long-overdue justice for Manolis Kypraios, who was forced to cut short a career in journalism due to the irresponsible and heavy-handed actions of the Greek riot police. To this day, neither the police force nor the state has ever apologized to Kypraios.”
He noted that the New Democracy now in power, which is trying to rebuild trust after being accused of stifling media freedom, could begin by having an apology also issued to the journalist and take steps to protect reporters.
Police violence toward members of the press in Greece has continued in recent years, according to monitoring conducted by IPI and published on the Mapping Media Freedom platform, including roughouse tactics.
In January this year MAT officers physically and verbally assaulted several journalists in Thessaloniki as they attempted to report on the dispersion of a protest in support of a convicted anarchist, said IPI.
In November 2022, police arrested and then filed criminal charges against well-known Greek photojournalist Nikos Pilos after he was detained while he was covering a police operation in Athens.
A month earlier, MAT riot officers violently attacked American photojournalist Ryan Thomas as he was covering a protest against a redevelopment project in Athens and documenting police violence against protesters, the report added.
In 2021, 2022 and 2023, the MapMF platform documented 19 press freedom violations in Greece involving police and state security forces, which affected 49 journalists and media workers.
Griffen also has called for the government’s new Task Force to establish additional training involving the MAT and Greek journalist unions.