Altered mug shots of bank robbers stir anger in Greece

Altered mug shots of bank robbers stir anger in Greece

ATHENS - Reuters
A Greek prosecutor ordered an investigation on Feb. 4 into whether four suspected bank robbers were beaten in custody after police published mug shots that were altered to make their injuries appear less severe.

Photos published in the Greek media of the men, who were aged between 20 and 25 and arrested on Feb. 1, show them bruised and bleeding while being escorted by police. But mug shots released by the police over the weekend had injuries missing. One had been altered to remove a purple bruise from beneath the suspect’s left eye. In another, black bruises below the suspect’s eyes and cheeks appear to have been erased.

Minister defends decision

Rights groups and critics have long accused Greek police of detaining immigrants and other prisoners in shocking conditions.

Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias acknowledged the photographs had been altered, but defended the decision by saying it was to make the four men recognizable to the public.

“Because if they hadn’t been Photoshopped, in order to make them resemble an image that the average person would recognize them in, then the photos wouldn’t have been published in the first place,” Dendias told Greek TV when asked about the press reports. He added police believed the injuries occurred when the suspects resisted arrest rather than when they were in custody.

The leftist Syriza opposition criticized Dendias’s comments and demanded an investigation into allegations by the families of the men saying they had beaten in police custody.

Greek news websites also published a letter by the mother of one of the suspects accusing the police of treating her son brutally because of his anti-establishment beliefs. “Police authorities in Greece are following the examples of torture in the Guantanamo prison,” the letter said.