Sunday, December 07, 2008

Riots grip Greece after police shooting

Riots have continued for a second night in the Greek capital Athens. The disturbances follow the fatal shooting by police of a 15 year old boy. At least four police have been injured in the rioting which has spread to several cities across the country. There have been reports of rioting in Thessaloniki, Patras, and the holiday islands of Crete and Corfu. Authorities say that 34 rioters have been injured and that thousands have taken to the streets.
Pictures on the BBC showed burning cars and shops including a Citroen car showroom. Banks have also been targeted by the rioters. Recent pictures from Patras showed police firing tear-gas into crowds of protesters holding red flags. CNN described many of the rioters as “self-styled anarchists” and the BBC also blamed much of the violence on anarchists. Greece has a significant anarchist movement with a long history [Anarchism in Greece]. Modern anarchist groups often organise through universities but there are often ideological divisions with some leaning more to Marxist-Leminist ideology such as the Revolutionary Organization 17 November. However, many of the rioters are more likely to be driven by a general dislike or hatred towards the police rather than being motivated by ideology.

The interior minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos has called for calm and even offered to resign over the shooting. Meanwhile the Prime Minister, Kostas Karamanlis, has sent a letter of apology to the parents of the boy. But their appeals have done little to quell the angry mobs. And as the politicians make apologetic statements, the police have partly defended their actions saying they were provoked. A police statement about the boy's death said the incident started when six young protesters pelted a police patrol car with stones. The 15 year old boy, Alexandros Grigoropoulos, was shot as he tried to throw a petrol bomb at the officers, police said [al-Jazeera].

But as the violence worsens, two officers involved in the fatal shooting have been arrested. They were named as Epaminondas Korkoneas, 37, who allegedly fired the shots that killed Grigoropoulos, and Vassilis Saraliotis, 31 [Sky News]
[Article posted in Chinese at Global News Watch]

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