A Greek LGBT activist died on Saturday, an alleged victim of a lynch mob, but officials say only a full medical investigation will determine a broader picture of how he died.
Zak Kostopoulos, 33, was born in the United States but grew up in Greece. He was well-known in the LGBT community and they remain shocked at the circumstances surrounding his death.
It happened on Saturday, September 22. Disturbing video footage shows an angry mob descending upon the young man as he tries to get out of a local shop with a fire extinguisher. A crowd gathers outside and when Kostopoulos finally breaks a window and begins to crawl out through the opening two men can be seen kicking him until he becomes lifeless.
The amateur footage also shows some bystanders trying to help Kostopoulos, just before emergency medical personnel arrive. Kostopoulos died before reaching the hospital.
The circumstances behind why Kostopoulos was in the jewelry shop are still in question. Some believe he was robbing it while others say he was taking refuge to “protect himself” from something taking place on the other side of the street.
Further, a coroner’s report said that Kostopoulos did not die from the injuries he sustained at the feet of his assailants saying in their report, “Macro-exclusion of lethal injuries. An undetermined cause of death requires laboratory testing.” Officials are awaiting a toxicology report which they say may lead to more answers.
Stavros Tsioros, a friend to Kostopoulos, said he was “a great fighter for the LGBT+ community,” adding, “You don’t kill [someone] like that.”
Kostopoulos was also a drag artist who performed under the name Zackie Oh and was also known for his AIDS activism.
The shop owner has been arrested and is facing charges of inflicting fatal bodily harm for his part in the incident. He is scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday. Another man seen in the footage is being sought in connection with the violence against Kostopoulos.
Anna Paparoussou is representing Kostopoulos’ family and she told a local news station, based on the video, his attackers should be charged with murder.
“We have such clear visual material that we are all in a position to understand what happened,” she said. “A man trapped in the store was prevented from coming out with the excessive use of force that led to his death.”
Warning the videos below contain disturbing images of violence: