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LGBTQ+ Activist Zak Kostopoulos's Convicted Killer Released

Man Convicted of Killing Greek Activist Zak Kostopoulos Walks Free
LGBTQ+ Activist Zak Kostopoulos

The decision means neither of the men convicted for the brutal 2018 beating death of Kostopoulos, which was captured on video, is behind bars.

One of two men convicted in the 2018 beating death of Greek LGBTQ+ activist Zak Kostopoulos has been freed from jail after serving only two months of a 10-year sentence.

A court in Athens has granted parole to Thanassis Hortarias, 60, as he appeals his recent conviction for his role in the murder of Zak Kostopoulos which took place on September 21, 2018, CNN Greece reports. The court cited the failing health of Hortarias's wife and two relatives for whom he is responsible in its decision. Hortarias, an estate agent, and jewelry shopkeeper Spyros Dimopoulos, 77, had each been sentenced to 10 years in jail following their convictions in May on lesser charges of "injury resulting in death" rather than murder.

Hortarias is required to report to the police each month and cannot leave the country, according to the outlet.

Kostopoulos, who was living with HIV, was brutally beaten to death by Hortarias and Dimopoulos, 77, the owner of a jewelry shop the 33-year-old activist and drag performer had quickly entered while fleeing from unknown attackers, the Guardian reports.

Multiple video cameras captured the horrific assault, showing the first beating by the two, and a later assault by the arresting police officers who can be seen kicking Kostopoulos in the head multiple times as he lay on the ground.

Police initially blamed Kostopoulos, saying he attempted to rob the store while under the influence of drugs. It was later found there were no drugs in his system at the time of the assault and videos disproved the robbery claims.

Only after Kostolopoulos's family hired a private group to conduct its own investigation did the case move forward. Forensic Architecture quickly discovered police had made little effort to investigate the case, the group reports. Authorities did not secure the crime scene or videos which captured the incident, and did not interview important witnesses.

The case was reopened and charges were brought after the family and Forensic Architecture submitted their own report to prosecutors.

Hortarias and Dimopoulos were convicted in May.

At the sentencing hearing, prosecutors had argued for the maximum sentences possible.

"Their behavior and action contain elements of a punitive disposition," the prosecution noted, according to Keep Talking Greece. "Zacharias Kostopoulos never attacked the defendants since he was trapped and they were safe. It turned out that they attacked him. It follows from their way of acting and their behavior that no mitigating factor should be recognized."

Hortrarias's release means none of those captured on video assaulting Kostopoulos or originally charged in the case remain behind bars. Four police officers were acquitted of all charges in May, and Dimopoulos was allowed to serve his sentence at home due to his advanced age.

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