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Society

Witness Says Bullied Greek Student Suicide Victim Beaten

June 13, 2019

A witness in the trial against nine former students of the Dairy School of Ioannina on charges of causing grievous bodily harm to classmate Vangelis Giakoumakis – a 20-year-old who committed suicide at the school in 2015 – said she him being attacked repeatedly.

The woman, who was not named although she was testifying in court, didn’t say why she didn’t report the assaults when she saw them, adding that the accused kept punching Giakoumakis and spitting on him.

She was also a student at the school and one of the few people who have testified they saw Giakoumakis being bullied and told the court one of the defendants pulled a knife to keep her from talking, as she was discussing a grade with a professor, a local news website reported, without explaining why the professor didn’t call the police.

She said she told school officials of the intimidation and that they responded by asking students not to bring knives on campus or in dorm rooms, with no explanation why police weren’t called over that either.

She also described Giakoumakis as a quiet, kind man who never caused any trouble. Now seven months pregnant, she fainted at the end of her testimony and was taken to a hospital with the trial set to resume June 13.

The suspects, said to be Cretans, aren’t being named either but are accused of violently bullying Giakoumakis for several months leading up to his death, which has been attributed to the mental and physical abuse to which he was subjected before killing himself.

Several videos and eye-witness accounts allegedly documenting numerous incidents of extreme abuse have emerged since his body was found near his dormitory on March 15, 2015, over a month after he had been reported missing by his parents.

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The trial had been scheduled to start in February but was postponed after most of the witnesses wouldn’t show up and they weren’t forced to appear.

According to reports, prosecutors are still investigating whether manslaughter charges can be brought against the nine suspects, five of whom were minors at the time of the incident.

In December, 2018, the farming school former director received a suspended sentence after being found guilty of negligence in the bullying suicide and didn’t have to serve any jail time.

The court acquitted former minister Christos Markoyannakis, a New Democracy deputy, who stood accused of trying to protect the student who allegedly bullied Giakoumakis, Kathimerini said.

The former director was accused of failing to react to reports that Giakoumakis was being victimized by fellow students at the school and that the abuse led him to commit suicide.

A prosecutor had recommended the acquittal of three defendants despite the evidence and the former school director’s lawyer said his client would appeal the suspended sentence despite its leniency.

In 2016, information from the case file suggested that politicians intervened to protect a group of Cretan students for allegedly bullying the 20-year-old.

Staff at the school in northwestern Greece claimed in their testimony that disciplinary action against the Cretans was halted after the institution’s director was pressured into letting them off, the newspaper had said at the time.

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