Man who beat Greek LGBTQ+ activist to death released from prison after two months

Zak Kostopoulos died on September 21, 2018, after being fatally attacked in a jewellery shop in Athens.

Greek activist Zak Kostopoulos.
Image: Twitter: @napoleon_mylife

Thanassis Hortarias has been released from prison after serving just two months of a 10-year sentence he received for causing injury resulting in the death of Greek activist Zak Kostopoulos.

Hortarias was jailed in May of this year over charges relating to the death of Kostopoulos, who the criminal fatally assaulted almost four years ago. Zak, who also went by drag name Zackie Oh, was 33 years-old at the time of the attack which occurred in a jewellery shop in central Athens on September 21, 2018. The case was initially closed after Kostopoulos was made out to be an addict attempting to rob the store, but when video footage of the incident emerged, it was evident that that was not the case.

Kostopoulos was horrifically beaten by the shop owners Hortarias and Spyros Dimopoulos, and when the police arrived at the scene officers violently arrested the victim adding to his injuries in the process. Shortly afterward, the activist was pronounced dead.

Hortarias, Dimopoulos and four police officers were charged in relation to the death of the Greek LGBTQ+ activist, and although the shop owners were sentenced, all four officials were acquitted and walked free.

Representing Kostopoulos’ family, lawyer Anny Paparousou said of the video footage: “He is clearly only half alive but they cuff him from behind, making any attempt at resuscitation impossible. It’s hard not to conclude that this was a hate crime.”

It was agreed that 77 year-old Dimopoulos would serve his sentence at home because of his age, but Hortarias was sent to prison for the 10 year sentence. However, he has now been released on parole after just two months, as his lawyers won a bid to have his sentence suspended. According to the estate agent’s legal team, Hortarias has been released on conditions that he will report to a local police station once a month, and will not leave the country.

The mother of the deceased, Eleni Kostopoulos, has spoken out against the injustice, writing: “The case went to court more than three years after Zak’s death. The police officers were acquitted – a common practice in Greece since police officers are protected by the justice system and never suffer any consequences. The other two accused individuals were sentenced to 10 years in prison. In court they never expressed any regrets for their actions.

“The older of the two, because of a law that exists for people over 75, will serve his sentence at home. The other individual went to prison for two months and now he is free again because he claimed that he has financial and health issues… what kind of justice is this?” she asked.

“It pains me to live in a country where corruption has penetrated even the justice system and even though I believe that there are decent and uncorrupted justice workers the bottom line is that after almost five long years no one has really paid for my son’s untimely and cruel death.”

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