On Thursday, a Greek Misdemeanors Court handed down an eight-month jail sentence, suspended pending appeal, to a 27-year-old riot police officer found guilty of striking photojournalist Tatiana Bolari while she was covering a protest rally in downtown Athens on October 5, 2011.
The court found the defendant guilty of causing bodily harm but acquitted him on charges of breach of duty.
The prosecutor asked the panel of judges to pass a verdict in accordance with the charges, namely that it was a deliberate, violent attack on the face of a female photojournalist, and not accept the defendant’s claim that he was simply trying to push her away after she had tried to pull his gas mask off his face.
Witnesses testifying in the trial included other photojournalists that were present during the incident, who said that the attack on Bolari was completely unprovoked. They stressed that the rally had already finished and only photojournalists were left on the scene, while there were no clashes or incidents taking place and no tear gas, with the road next to the Parliament already opened to traffic.
Head of the Greek photojournalists’ union Marios Lolos commented that this was the first time that a riot police officer was being punished for violent behavior targeting a photojournalist. He said the issue of riot police attacks on photojournalists had been the topic of an exhibition mounted by Greek photojournalists in Brussels.
The specific attack on Bolari was captured in a picture taken by award-winning Reuters photojournalist Yiannis Behrakis and was seen across the world, provoking criticism from international organizations and the Foreign Press Association of Greece.