Greece demands answers over death of Greek immigrant in Germany

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Greek immigrant to Germany, Giorgos Zantiotis died while in police custody in Wuppertal, Germany. Credit: Henning Schlottmann/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

Greece is demanding answers regarding the death of Greek immigrant Giorgos Zantiotis while in police custody in Wuppertal, Germany this week.

The Greek Foreign Ministry has officially requested the German authorities to provide them with a full report on what happened to the Greek citizen before his death.

Zantiotis died after being taken into police custody on November 2. Since the passing of the 25-year-old man, few details regarding his death have come to light. There have been many theories regarding his cause of death, including that he was beaten at the police station.

The case has been at the center of controversy, as his death was reported in German media five days after it happened. By then, a video of Zantiotis’ arrest had already started circulating on social media.

Video of Greek immigrant Giorgos Zantiotis being arrested in Germany has gone viral

The video shows Zantiotis, lying on his stomach in the street, being stopped by German police officers while his sister told them to stop because he had recently undergone surgery.

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The local prosecutor said police were called to the scene after a taxi driver called authorities saying he saw two siblings arguing and one was injured.

German police say Zantiotis tried to tackle a policewoman to the ground and resisted arrest, injuring two officers in the process. According to the statement provided by local police, the forces at the scene had to wait for the arrival of reinforcements to take the Greek immigrant into custody.

Upon taking him to the station, the police claimed they suspected Zantiotis was under the influence of drugs, so they took a blood sample from him. They claim he then suddenly passed out and attempts to resuscitate him failed.

His family said the young Greek immigrant had health issues and placed an intragastric balloon in his stomach to help him lose weight. Some claim that if Zantiotis had been hit or physically assaulted, it could have caused his death due to his health issues.

German authorities claim death of Greek immigrant caused by drug-induced heart attack

Herbert Reul, Minister of State for Home Affairs, said on Friday that “according to the coroner’s decision, violence was not his cause of death”. He pointed out that the Greek immigrant’s body showed no signs of physical attack and noted that the stitches from Zantiotis’ recent stomach surgery were completely intact and undisturbed.

According to German officials, the results of Zantiotis’ autopsy show that the man suffered from cardiomegaly, or an enlarged heart, which can be a genetic condition, or sometimes the result of drug use.

It also showed that he died of a heart attack, which authorities say may have been the result of taking drugs.

Wolf-Tilman Baumert, spokesman for the Wuppertal public prosecutor, said Zantiotis’s sister had informed the police that “her brother had taken LSD that night… his aggressive behavior, not only towards his sister but also towards the law enforcement, leads to the conclusion that he was acting under the influence of drugs and probably an overdose of these substances led to his heart attack.

Baumert also noted that Zantiotis had visited a cardiologist in recent months for his heart.

Baumert then addressed the controversy surrounding the fact that the death of the Greek immigrant was not announced to the press until days after it happened.

He said he himself decided to wait, stating that he did so out of respect for the family:

“We had a 25-year-old man who was not known to the police, but who made a huge mistake while high on drugs. He turned into a different person who made things he would never have done otherwise.

“He first attacked his sister, then the police. He acted very horribly and in the end he lost his life. It is a tragic sequence of events. He’s not at fault, but the person who sold him drugs, who we’re looking for, is. I did it out of respect for the family. But when the incident circulated on social media, with the most incredible theories surrounding his death, I decided to go public, as I would no longer be able to protect the young man’s family from public debate on this happened,” he said.

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