Belfast Telegraph

Home News World

Violence erupts in Greek cities

A protest through central Athens to mark the anniversary of the fatal police shooting of an unarmed teenager quickly turned violent as marchers damaged shopfronts and bus stations and set fire to looted clothes.

Clashes continued late into the night in the neighbourhood of Exarchia, a haven for extreme left-wingers and anarchists, with youths ambushing police forces with firebombs and rocks thrown from balconies.

Police said they detained 211 people.

Confrontations also broke out between police and demonstrators marching in the northern city of Thessaloniki. Police fired tear gas and stun grenades after a crowd beat up two plain-clothed officers.

The marches were commemorating the December 6 2008 police killing of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos in the capital, which led to two weeks of the most violent rioting Greece had seen in decades.

The teenager and his friends were arguing with two policemen when one officer went to his patrol car, retrieved his gun and shot the youth. The officer, Epaminondas Korkoneas, is serving a life sentence.

About 5,000 people marched in Athens, passing the Greek parliament and headed towards the spot where Alexandros was killed. At one point, people broke into a Zara store, took rails of clothes into the street and burned them.

Police cordoned off Exarchia's central square, firing tear gas and pepper spray.

The marches come at a time when nearly nightly violent protests are being held by supporters of one of Alexandros' friends, jailed anarchist and convicted bank robber Nikos Romanos, 21. He was present when Alexandros was killed and is now on hunger strike, demanding prison leave to attend lectures after he passed university entrance exams.

Romanos, currently in hospital under police guard, has been starving himself since last month and doctors have said his health is failing. He was jailed with three young men following a February 2013 bank robbery in which they took a hostage as they tried to escape. He was sentenced in October to 15 years and 11 months for the robbery and faces two more trials as an alleged member of an armed anarchist group.

Prime minister Antonis Samaras will meet Romanos' parents tomorrow, following a request made through their lawyer.


From Belfast Telegraph