A 19-year-old Australian tourist who was struck by a wayward bullet, during a shootout between Greek police and fugitive anarchist Nikos Maziotis, is seeking legal advice for a claim against the Greek state.
Grant Nicholas Uranie was on the Greek leg of a European Contiki tour when he found himself in the midst of the shootout, where he was struck in the Achilles heel and hospitalised.
He was one of four victims to be injured in the event – including Maziotis, a police officer and a German tourist.
Maziotis was convicted in absentia of terrorism charges in 2012, for his involvement with far-left extremist group Revolutionary Struggle. He was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment but remained at large until his arrest in July. Greek police had put a €1 million bounty on his head.
Uranie’s Australian lawyer, George Defteros, spoke to Neos Kosmos about his client’s circumstances and said that an investigation into the events of the shootout were still in their preliminary stages.
However, he did say that Greek officials had a responsibility in ensuring public safety, especially areas prone to tourists.
“I think a proper risk assessment should have been undertaken. This [the arrest] was in the middle of the tourist precinct at lunch time, there were a lot of people around, clearly there was an operation on and a number of police were in attendance, so we assume there was surveillance of the gentleman that was going to be arrested and the arrest should have been effected in circumstances which did not put the public at risk.”
Defteros said his client’s injuries are substantial despite receiving medical treatment in Greece and at Melbourne’s Monash Health hospital. It is still unclear whether it was a police bullet that struck Uranie, but his legal team is weighing up the option of claiming compensation pursuant to Greek law – namely pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life (including the participation in sporting activities), hospital bills and also for the financial loss of his holiday. Defteros said his client may also claim a “psychological component”, but must first seek legal advice from experts in Melbourne.
“There are a number of areas that we have researched already in terms of torts and personal injury compensation under Greek law. There are specific provisions for remedies in relation to accidents and causes of injury that are compensatory.”
Defteros said he expects to serve a letter of demand to Greek officials within the next 28 days, once legal investigations have been concluded.
He also raised concerns over claims that Uranie was approached by a Greek police official whilst hospitalised, as to his intentions of making a claim against the Hellenic State.
“We are somewhat concerned by the request that was made very early on in the piece for the client to indicate his account of the injury and whether he intended to raise a claim against the Hellenic State, seeking an award of pecuniary restitution.
“This request was made by the police commissioner and it was made very soon after the event. We think this was perhaps a little premature taking into account the client was still in hospital at the time. As a 19-year-old I would have thought he’d be seeking advice before he would commit himself to answering such questions.”
It is still unknown whether Uranie will suffer any long term physical and/or non-physical injuries.