Friday 23 March 2018

Greek court clears executed men

The Supreme Court in Greece has posthumously acquitted six people for treason
The Supreme Court in Greece has posthumously acquitted six people for treason

Reversing one of the most contested court decisions in Greek history, the Supreme Court has posthumously acquitted six top politicians and soldiers executed nearly 90 years ago for a crushing military defeat that indelibly marked modern Greece.

The decision follows a fight by the grandson of one of the defendants to clear his grandfather's name, in court and in official school textbooks.

The six - who included three ex-prime ministers and a former general-in-chief - were convicted of high treason in 1922, amid a wave of popular discontent after Greece lost the 1919-1922 war against Turkey.

After the rout, still lamented as the Asia Minor catastrophe, tens of thousands of Greeks were forced out of western Turkey and Greece's hopes of regional dominance were shattered.

Supreme Court judges voted 3-2 to accept evidence for the defence that was not available at the 1922 court martial, and reversed the guilty verdict.

The decision followed an appeal by former prime minister Petros Protopapadakis' grandson, who was delighted.

"I feel great satisfaction, as an injustice has been reversed," Michalis Protopapadakis said.

"I am certain that the souls of these people who have been acquitted will sense it tonight, and are now justified. For they fell victim to no actions of their own, but rather to unpleasant circumstances."

The six men executed by firing squad in 1922 have long been regarded as scapegoats, who had no intention to cause Greece's defeat.

Historians believe they were sacrificed to appease a population embittered by the army's heavy losses, the uprooting of communities established for thousands of years in what is modern Turkey, and the collapse of the nationalist dream of a new Greek empire reviving the glories of Byzantium.

Press Association

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