Investigation into police treatment after altered police mug shots in Greece show missing bruises

The two pictures show the changes made to a police mug shot
The two pictures show the changes made to a police mug shot Photo: Reuters

A Greek prosecutor has ordered an investigation into whether four suspected bank robbers were beaten in custody after police published altered mug shots that made their injuries appear less severe.

There have been criticism of Greek police for some time with rights groups accusing them of detaining immigrants and other prisoners in shocking conditions.

A shot of one of the suspects shows a large purple bruise and a cut under the left eye
A shot of one of the suspects shows a large purple bruise and a cut under the left eye Credit: Reuters

Photos published in the Greek media of the men, who were arrested on Friday and are aged between 20 and 25, 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.

The mug shot released by police showing a bruise has been removed
The mug shot released by police showing a bruise has been removed Credit: Reuters

Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias acknowledged the photographs had been altered, but defended the decision by saying it was to make the four men recognisable to the public, telling Greek television:

Photoshop was used and I - just like you, just like any reasonable person - asked why was this done?

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.

He said police believed the injuries occurred when the suspects resisted arrest rather than when they were in custody.

The leftist Syriza opposition criticised 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, saying:

Police authorities in Greece are following the examples of torture in the Guantanamo prison.

My son - and the others arrested - was not treated like every other law violator but with particular hatred because he is an anarchist

The four men were arrested during an attempted armed robbery at the branches of Greek lenders ATEbank and Hellenic Postbank in the northern town of Kozani on Friday

Two of the detainees appeared in court on Monday on charges of belonging to the Conspiracy of Fire Cells group, an urban guerrilla group which has claimed responsibility for a spate of bomb attacks since 2009.