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Greek Court Convicts Killers of Gay Rights Activist Zak Kostopoulos

Zak Kostopoulos
Zak Kostopoulos was lynched on September 21, 2018 in central Athens. Credit: Facebook/Remembering Zak Kostopoulos

A Greek court sentenced two men to 10 years imprisonment on Tuesday for the killing of gay rights activist Zak Kostopoulos in Athens on September 21, 2018.

A 59-year-old real estate agent was led to prison while the prosecutor proposed that the 77-year-old jewelry shop owner spend his sentence at home due to his advanced age.

The court did not recognize any of the defenses or mitigating circumstances brought forth by the defense. The defense also asked the prosecutor to suspend the sentence, something that was rejected.

Furthermore, the court found that the four police officers facing charges for their involvement in the case were found innocent by a split decision.

Kostopoulos, known by his artistic name “Zak / Zackie Oh,” was an HIV-positive drag queen and advocate for the rights of LGBTQ and other HIV-positive people.

Kostopoulos killing caught on camera

The attack caught on camera shows Kostopoulos trying to break free from a locked jewelry store by smashing the store’s glass door with a fire extinguisher. It is unclear how and why he entered the store.

It shows both convicts beating Kostopoulos who fell on the sidewalk where he was being repeatedly kicked.

It then shows him attempting to crawl out of the store through an opening in the glass while two men, including the owner of the jewelry store, are seen repeatedly kicking him.

After lying on the ground, injured, with a crowd surrounding him, the beaten man then stumbles away before being surrounded by police who appear to forcefully handcuff him.

Believing him to be a burglar, police officers arriving at the scene also beat and handcuffed him as he lay bleeding on the pavement, the video showed. He was pronounced dead a few hours later at the hospital.

Zak Kostopoulos was born in the US to Greek immigrants

Zak Kostopoulos was born in the US in 1985 to Greek immigrants; he came to Greece at the age of seven and then went abroad again only to return to Greece later on.

Zak studied acting and marketing. He worked at the “Athens Check Point,” and volunteered at Positive Voice (an association of HIV-positive people in Greece) while writing articles on the internet and in newspapers for issues related to human rights, sexuality, and HIV.

He was also the president of the Homosexual Lesbian Community of Greece (OLKE). In the municipal elections of 2014, he was a candidate for municipal councilor of Athens with the combination “P.N.OIKA.”

Kostopoulos was buried in the town of Kirra where he grew up. Since 2018, people have organized yearly marches in Athens to commemorate Kostopoulos’ death and call for justice against his killers. The slogan “Zackie lives, smash the Nazis” (which rhymes in Greek) was chanted at events across the country.

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