Greek LGBTQ rights activist Zak Kostopoulos was killed Friday in Athens, and video footage shows him being beaten to death by a mob.
The footage, which has been edited and was released online, shows Kostopoulos being held inside a jewelry store and trying to break out, finally succeeding by crawling through a broken window, the U.K.’s Pink News reports. Once outside, he is shown being beaten and kicked by the shopkeeper and another man. A kick to the head knocks him to the ground, where more people kick him.
Some bystanders tried to stop the attack, but nearby police officers apparently offered no assistance and may have even joined in the beating, according to various sources. “The footage ends with Kostopoulos surrounded by police and emergency workers, lying sideways on a stretcher, with his arms behind him as if handcuffed,” Pink News reports. “He died before reaching a hospital.”
Some local media reports called Kostopoulos a drug addict and said he was armed with a knife and attempting to rob the store, something his supporters strongly dispute.
“LGBTQI activist Gregoris Vallianatos posted on Facebook that the victim was actually looking for shelter in the store, as he had been sitting at a nearby cafe when a brawl erupted,” reports Neos Kosmos, an English-language site from Greece.
The shop’s owner has been arrested and charged with causing deadly injuries, the site reports. His lawyer said the merchant did not intend to harm Kostopoulos but reacted strongly because the shop had been robbed previously. He is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday. The second man seen attacking the activist is being sought by police.
Allies of Kostopoulos say the attack may have been an antigay hate crime, and they are questioning why police did not try to stop the assault and, indeed, even joined in it. The activist’s family says the shop owner should be charged with homicide. “We have such clear visual material that we are all in a position to understand what happened,” the family’s lawyer, Anna Paparoussou, told Greek broadcaster ANTI. “A man trapped in the store was prevented from coming out with the excessive use of force that led to his death.”
Kostopoulos was known for his work for the rights of LGBTQ and HIV-positive people. He was involved with Positive Voice, an association of HIV-positive Greeks. He was also a drag performer under the name Zackie Oh.
Kostopoulos came out as HIV-positive in a YouTube video in 2013.
About 500 people rallied Saturday night in Athens in remembrance of Kostopoulos and in protest of the crime.