THЭ VЭRΔICT: The Case of Irianna V-L

This is the beginning of a two part story of justice, political affiliation and questionable evidence that has torn through Greece in the last couple of months. This is a story of outcry, protest, loyalty and commitment, but above all this is a story of chance and how the people you meet once during a snapshot of your life can change it forever.

This particular story begins on a random night in March of 2011, where police forces stormed the apartment of Kostantinos Papadopoulos and arrested him on the grounds of suspicion that he occasionally hosted members of  the Συνωμοσία των Πυρήνων της Φωτιάς (ΣΠΦ) (translated as the “Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei”), a group generally classified as anarchist terrorists that are still active today.  Staying with him that night was his 23 year-old girlfriend Irianna,  a university student who was taken in to answer some questions and give DNA  evidence but was otherwise left alone. Papadopoulos was released three days later on some restricting conditions and the couple continued to carry on with their lives.

18th of November 2011: some guns and a round of bullets are discovered in the area of Zografou, a popular student hub in downtown Athens. The weapons were discovered a day after the national holiday of November 17th, a holiday that commemorates the attack on the Polytechnic school during a period of martial law and a popular day for anarchist protests, where the police are on high levels of alert and the government faces a lot of internal pressure to control the situation. The guns were proven to be unused but are nevertheless sent to the lab for testing.

Results from forensic testing on a lone gun clip showed DNA from at least two men as well as a partial DNA match of an unknown woman.

11th of January 2013: a now 25 year-old Irianna is arrested once again after a small amount of poor-quality DNA she gave 2 years ago was found as a partial match on the lone gun clip also discovered two years ago. She is questioned extensively about her beliefs and sympathies. She states repeatedly that she is not a member of the ΣΠΦ, that she isn’t even an anarchist and that she had never seen nor touched a weapon before in her life, not even a gun clip.  She didn’t know or recognize  any of the key members the police were identifying until a woman named Olga Oikonomidou was mentioned. Irianna  admits to briefly having met her at a concert during the summer with some mutual friends. She is released from questioning under some restrictions three days after being taken in.

All of this occurs during the trial of Konstantinos Papadopoulos, who was officially accused of having ties to ΣΠΦ. The Jury absolves Papadopoulos  unanimously, finding him to only have ties of friendship to certain members of the organization as well as general antiestablishment sympathies, something Papadopoulos himself never denied. Throughout the duration of the trial, Irianna remained at her boyfriend’s side, showing steadfast support. After he had been cleared of all charges and found innocent the couple was left to resume their lives in peace. Irianna went on to work at the University of Athens, teaching a group of students while completing her PHD and the lives of the two remained unbothered and untouched by any mention of anarchist activity.

That is up until the summer of 2017, where, after four years of undisturbed normality, their lives took a sudden, shocking turn. Irianna was sentenced to 13 years in prison.

Edited by Gracie Webb