Two men with connections to the neonazi Golden Dawn party were given life sentences on Tuesday, following their conviction for the murder of a 27-year-old worker from Pakistan in western Athens a year ago.
Shehzad Luqman, who had been working in Greece for five years, was stabbed seven times as he made his way to work on his bicycle in the early hours of January 17 in the western Athens suburb of Petralona.
In a unanimous verdict, the Athens mixed jury court found Dionysis Liakopoulos, 26, and Christos Stergiopoulos, 30, guilty of his murder. They received an additional 32 months each for additional gun-related charges.
The two, who denied Golden Dawn membership, were riding a motorbike and claimed the killing followed an argument over who had the right of way. But prosecutor Maria Bereti argued the stabbing was a premeditated hate crime. They “carried out homicide in a calm mental state and stabbed the victim seven times. They decided jointly to take the life of an innocent foreign man, who was of Pakistani origin. Which of the blows was lethal is of no importance. What is of importance is that they were determined from the start.”
Bereti said there were no mitigating circumstances. Liakopoulos and Stergiopoulos had shown no remorse and left their victim to bleed to death on the road, without offering him any help…
…During the reading of its verdict, the court did not classify the act as a “racist crime”. However, the presiding magistrate said the court’s judgement will become obvious from in the published version of the decision.
As the verdict was read out, Stergiopoulos, a firefighter, remained calm, while Liakopoulos, a clerk, broke down. None of the perpetrators’ families, including the parents, attended the trial, which opened on December 17 last year.
A search of Liakopoulos’s home found Golden Dawn leaflets in addition to knives and truncheons, although the two men have denied membership in the neo-Nazi party.
In testimony presented in person to the court in January, Luqman’s mother said she could never forgive her son’s murderers.
“I don’t want to forgive them. They cut my heart,” Sughran Bibi said, who cried continuously during the hearing.
“They killed my child who was on his way to earn his bread and have told various lies. I don’t want to forgive them for anything. They cut my heart. My child was tremendously good and had no quarrel with anyone,” she told judges.
The woman testified that, after her son found work in Greece, he claimed everything was fine. “But later, he said things had gone wrong. That they were being hit, beaten and killed. He said he was very afraid. I asked him to return but he told me that he wanted to repay the loan he had taken. They killed him because he was different; because he was an immigrant.”
As he addressed the court, Khadam Hussain, the victim’s father, also broke down as he described why his son came to Greece:
“He came to Greece because of poverty. He was going to work at 3am when nationalists stopped him and stabbed him. I had told him to return home but he insisted on sending us money as loans so his sisters could get married.”