Heroes who attempted to establish a free Greece after the 1821 Greek Revolution fought with the power of the pen. In the provincial city of Tripoli, in the heart of the Peloponnese, is Areos Square. Three heroes of Greek democracy are honored. Theodore Kolokotronis, the Greek “George Washington” is seen riding on his horse in the far end of the square. Opposite him is the Courthouse of Tripoli. The statues of two dignified judges are seen at the entrance. They are judicial officers Gregorios Tertsetis and Anastasios Polyzoidis. Men of conscience who refused to be manipulated by politics. What is their claim to fame? They refused to condemn to death the heroes of the Greek Revolution on false charges by the monarchy.
In 1832, Anastasios Polyzoidis was nominated by the Bavarian regency to be president of a five-member court of Nafplio which had to judge Theodoros Kolokotronis, Dimitrios Plapoutos and other former leaders of the War of Independence on trumped-up charges of treason. The Greek heroes would have been condemned to death. Polyzoidis, together with fellow judge Gregorios Tertsetis, knowing very well the innocence of the defendants, refused to countersign the decision of condemnation of death. The Minister of Justice, K. Schinas, personally intervened to force Polyzoidis to add his signature to the document “in the name of the King”, to which Polyzoidis replied: “I prefer my hand to be cut off rather than sign.”
His stance caused his imprisonment and violent maltreatment. This refusal to accept royal intervention in the administration of justice was indicative of the Polyzoidis’ integrity His portrait, together with that of Tertsetis, now hangs in the Areios Pagos, the Supreme Court of Greece. After the coming of age of king Otto, he was rehabilitated and nominated as vice-president of the Areios Pagos and counselor of state.1
On the celebration of the 196th Anniversary of the formation of the Greek state and 86th Annual NY Greek Parade, we must remember the judicial heroes. Anastasios Polyzoidis and Gregorios Tertseris showed courage, valor and honor. In 2017, do we have jurists who will stand by their conscience and not capitulate to political pressures?