Greece: queer activist Zak Kostopoulos lynched to death in Athens

CW: descriptions of violence

Queer activist and performer Zak Kostopoulos was beaten to death, allegedly following his attempted robbery of a jewellery store at Glastonos Street near Omonia Square in the centre of Athens. The incident happened in a bright day last Friday.

Kostopoulos was a well-known queer and LGBTQ+ activist and drag performer who struggled to bring down prejudice suffered by HIV positive people. Zak was 33 years old.

The Greek media present Kostopoulos’ murder as some form of accident which occurred when the shop owner tried to “protect his property”, however, as reported by some activists:

“His murder is all over the news presented as an accident: he died trying to escape through a shop window after attempting armed robbery. The brutal, brutal video accompanying those articles shows a very different truth: a disoriented, unarmed Zak trying to escape and the shop owner with another man brutally kicking him to death.”

While another account says that Zak did not intend to rob the store at all,  and entered it only to seek protection from some brawl happening nearby and ended up trapped when the security door closed automatically. This account is supported by many of Zak’s friends and fellow activists.

The horrifying video show Zak, already hardly walking and struggling to stand on his feet, exiting the shop through the window he broke with a fire extinguisher and being followed by a shop owner and another man who proceed to beat him while a crowd of mainly male onlookers watch. When the Greek motorcycle police arrives, they handcuff Zak, who is lying beaten on the floor, rather than his assailants. The shop owner got arrested only after the video went viral. According to the Greek media, he was charged with manslaughter rather than with murder.

Following Zak’s murder, there was an emergency meeting at Athens Polytechnic which resulted in a spontaneous protest of  about 500 people, with some smaller protests in other cities. More events are planned by the Greek activists in the upcoming days.

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Photo: Zak Kostopoulos|Facebook