25 May ‘Court split in Socrates’ re-trial
Ilias Anagnostopoulos and Antonios Papadimitriou represented the City of Athens against Socrates at a re-enactment of his trial of 399 BC.
The four hour event took place at the main stage of the Onassis Cultural Center in Athens on May 25, 2012 before an international “court” of ten distinguished jurists and an attentive audience of more than one thousand.
The court heard oral arguments by both counsel for the City of Athens and counsel for Socrates.
Ilias Anagnostopoulos stressed that democracy in Athens had been recently restored and was still vulnerable. He said that Socrates had a fair trial and his fellow citizens of the jury convicted him for disrespect of the gods of the city and corruption of the youth “on the evidence and not out of prejudice, hate or revenge”. Antonios Papadimitriou, President of the Onassis Foundation, pointed out that Socrates was an enemy of Athenian Democracy and the spiritual leader of the oligarchs.
Counsel for Socrates Michael Beloff QC and French advocate Patrick Simon argued that the verdict against Socrates was a verdict against free speech and stressed that in a democratic society ideas should not be criminalized. They urged the court and the audience not to vote against the city’s greatest philosopher.
At the end of the hearing the court was divided. Five members including presiding judge Loretta Preska, Chief Judge of the Southern District of New York, voted against Socrates whilst five members voted in favour of him. The vote of the audience was more favourable for the Greek philosopher (582 for and 282 against Socrates).
The members of the court included Lord Justice Richard Aikens, Judge, member of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales (UK), Sophie-Caroline De Margerie, member of the Conseil d’Etat (France), Pierre Delvolvé, member of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences (France), Dr.Giusep Nay, Dr. iur., former President of the Federal Court of Switzerland (Switzerland),Loretta Preska, Chief Judge of the Southern District of New York (USA),Anna Psarouda-Benaki, Professor emerita of Criminal Law, former chair of Hellenic Parliament (Greece), Vasileios Rigas, former Vice President of the Athens Supreme Court (Greece), Sir Stephen Sedley, member of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales (UK), François Terré, member of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences (France), Harm Peter Westermann, Law Professor, University of Tubingen (Germany)
You can watch Socrates’ trial at www.sgt.gr/popup_akamai_en.html