Greece: Nea Anchialos operation resulted in the death of Spyros Dravilas and the capture of Grigoris Tsironis and Spyros Christodoulou

‘… as of now forever free’
Honour to Spyros Dravilas

On May 29th 2015, during an anti-terrorist operation of the Greek police in the area of Nea Anchialos in Magnesia (in close distance to the city of Volos), Spyros Dravilas fell dead inside a safe house under unverified circumstances. The police operation against dubbed ‘Distomo robbers’ resulted not only in the death of Spyros Dravilas (an illegalist and ex-prisoner in struggle), but also in the arrest of Grigoris Tsironis (an anarchist comrade, very active over the past two decades, who was on the run since 2006) and Spyros Christodoulou (an illegalist and unruly ex-prisoner).

The authorities released an autopsy report indicating that Dravilas fired a rifle inside his mouth. Obviously we cannot know what really happened, but so far it seems that his close ones and the two arrestees themselves have not refuted this version of the story.

In the year 2006, Spyros Dravilas had violated a furlough from Koridallos prison (he never returned to prison while on a leave). Rearrested in 2008, he was accused – and denied the charges levelled against him – of liberating two prisoners (Vassilis Palaiokostas, who remains a fugitive after another helicopter prison escape, and Alket Rizai, who was recaptured in 2009) by landing a helicopter for the first time at Koridallos prison yard in June 2006.

In 2009, Dravilas was sentenced to 17 years’ imprisonment and served time in Domokos prison. During the summer of 2013, it became known that Dravilas had violated his prison furlough and gone into clandestinity again.

In the aftermath of the Nea Anchialos anti-terrorist operation, the police/media have tried to portray the deceased Dravilas as perpetrator of an armed attack against the Domokos prison chief warden Serafeim Kallimanis, which took place on February 21st 2015 in the area of Kouvela in Stylida. It’s probably no coincidence that, amid media frenzy, the execution of that chief warden was claimed on May 31st via a communiqué by the ‘Militia Organization/Popular Justice’ (making no mention whatsoever of Dravilas).

Below are excerpts from a text issued on June 1st by comrades and friends of Spyros Dravilas and those captured in Nea Anchialos:

‘Grigoris has always been and remains a comrade. (…) Spyros Christodoulou has always been and remains an insubordinate proletarian, who has carved and still carves his own path in dignity under the most adverse conditions: imprisonment and clandestinity. Exactly like Spyros Dravilas… Of course, no one should ever think he feared possible retaliation by prison guards against him! No sleazy hand of screws could ever touch him without taking into account the price they’d have to pay. Why, then, did Spyros judge he had to turn the gun on himself? Because the always smiling Spyros, the youth who had always honoured his friendships and his promises, ensuring he would do so through his dynamism, the friend who bravely faced the risks that his life and freedom ran as an outlaw, knew what awaited him. He had tasted it from the age of 21, when he first came to know of the harsh reality of incarceration. Since then, having spent several years in prison, he became a runaway and fugitive from justice until the age of 34, when he consciously dismissed the long-term deprivation of his freedom. He refused, like very few people can, to see himself walking down those miserable corridors and into the prison cells of the correctional hellholes; he refused to surrender the remaining years of an insubmissive youth to the modern galleys. Honour forever to Spyros Dravilas! To us, Spyros is neither “the buzz-cut-guy” nor “the helicopter-flying-guy”, but Spyros “the kra”, the vagabond from the area of Tavros, the jovial and undaunted, the good-hearted friend… We don’t forget; we don’t forgive. Solidarity with the arrestees Grigoris Tsironis and Spyros Christodoulou. Fire to the galleys!’

Recall that, in January 2006, a bank robbery on Solonos Street in the city centre of Athens resulted in the heavy injury and captivity of anarchist Yannis Dimitrakis. His arrest was followed by delirious police/media propaganda about the alleged existence of a ‘robbers’ in black gang’. That year, anarchists Simos Seisidis, Marios Seisidis and Grigoris Tsironis were proclaimed wanted for the case. In 2009, a 600,000 euro bounty was placed on their heads. (Marios Seisidis remains fugitive to this day.)

Below is a statement released by comrade Grigoris Tsironis on June 2nd, while in custody in the Athens police headquarters (GADA):

‘A 9-year period of freedom in clandestinity has ended perhaps in the worst possible way: the death of brother Spyros Dravilas. I’d like to express my most heartfelt condolences to his family and wish them courage to bear this loss. Spyros, as of now forever free, will always live in my heart and in my thoughts. Those who are still being hunted as they walk the uncharted paths of freedom will likewise remain in my heart and on my mind. Lots of strength to you brothers and sisters…

Lastly, from inside a holding cell on the 12th floor of the Athens police headquarters, I send my greetings to the imprisoned comrades wishing them speedy freedom, till we meet again soon.

PS. I thank and I’m grateful to those who either knowingly or unknowingly have helped me and given me moments of joy, happiness and comradeship all these years.

Grigoris Tsironis’

On June 2nd, Grigoris Tsironis and Spyros Christodoulou were brought before investigating judge and prosecutor in the Athens courthouse at Evelpidon Street, where nearly 50 comrades were gathered in solidarity with the two arrestees. Upon entering the building, Tsironis and Christodoulou swore at reporters/journalists. After they exited the courtroom, anti-riot squads did not permit eye contact between supporters and the arrestees, who were taken out of the building from the backside. People in solidarity shouted slogans, and some minor skirmishes with the anti-riot cops ensued.

The arrestees were sent to pretrial detention. Both had their DNA samples forcibly taken by police. Their request for transfer to Koridallos prison was denied. Grigoris Tsironis is expected to be moved to Trikala prison and Spyros Christodoulou to Alikarnassos prison (Crete).

In the meantime, police have conducted further house raids in their search for bank robbery suspects.