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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-12-07

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM promises 'no leniency' over boy's death
  • [02] Seven arrested for incidents in Athens
  • [03] Rioting after teenager shot by police

  • [01] PM promises 'no leniency' over boy's death

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Sunday said that those responsible for the death of the 15-year-old boy shot by police in Exarhia the night before should expect no leniency from the state. In a letter of condolence to the parents of the slain teenager, he promised the State would do everything in its power to prevent such a tragedy occurring again.

    The premier's promise came in the wake of the worst rioting in decades, which swept through Greek cities until the early hours of the morning, while police steeled themselves for further demonstrations and protests later in the day.

    Soon after the boy's death at the hands of police, the prime minister had refused to accept the resignations offered by Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Deputy Interior Minister for public order issues, Panagiotis Hinofotis.

    In a press conference on Sunday morning, Pavlopoulos said that he had spoken with the boy's mother on the phone the night before in order to say sorry.

    Even if the overwhelming majority of Greek police officers did their job correctly and this was seen as an isolated incident, the death of the boy on Saturday night was inconceivable in a country with a democratic framework of operation, the minister stressed.

    It was equally inconceivable that those responsible for the death of the 15-year-old should not receive the punishment they deserved, he added.

    The interior minister went on to appeal for calm, asking the public to assist the police in their legitimate function:

    "The police have and will have a defensive function in order to protect the property and the lives of all Greek citizens. It will continue to have this function after this isolated incident. And I appeal to Greek citizens to help so that there is calm and the legitimate work of the police can yield results," he said.

    Regarding the incidents that swept the country through the night, the minister said that he could sympathise with the pain many felt at this incident but that this could not lead to situations that turned against other people and the social whole.

    In response to reporters' questions, he also stressed his confidence in the leadership of the police, while stressing that the police would not leave the safety of people's lives and property at anyone's mercy.

    "In spite of these isolated incidents, Greek citizens have and deserve quality policing," he added.

    Regarding the circumstances of the boy's death, Pavlopoulos refused to answer questions until the police investigation was completed, particularly the ballistics report that would show how the shooting occurred. He stressed that the investigation would not end until all those shown to share in responsibility for what occurred had been punished.

    The minister also thanked the political parties for the responsible stance they had shown and appealed for the isolation of "extremist elements" in order to avoid more incidents and destruction during the demonstrations scheduled on Sunday and the following days.

    "It is everyone's absolutely democratic right to protest and demonstrate. Especially after such inconceivable incidents as that last night. But the police function defensively and will be present during the demonstrations so that the lives and property of citizens are not placed at risk," he stressed.

    President expresses condolences over boy's death

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Sunday sent a telegrams expressing the state's condolences to the parents of the boy killed by police in Exarhia on Saturday.

    "I express by deepest anguish for the loss of your son. His death was a wound to the operation of the state of law. I hope that it is the last and I am certain that those to blame will be held responsible," Papoulias said in his message.

    A letter expressing his condolences was also sent to the boy's parents by the prime minister:

    "In these extremely difficult hours, I beg that you accept my sincerest condolences for the unfair loss of your son. As all Greeks, I feel deep anguish. I know that nothing can assuage your pain at this time. I want to assure you that there will be no leniency in seeking out responsibility. The state, as is its obligation, will do everything possible so that yesterday's tragedy in not repeated," Karamanlis said in the letter.

    Guards responsible for shooting before public prosecutor

    The two special guards making up the police patrol that shot the 15-year-old were led before a public prosecutor on Sunday. The officer that fired the shots against the boy was charged with homicide and illegal weapons use, while his partner was charged as an accomplice.

    The two officers must now appear before an examining magistrate, who will set a date when they will present their testimony.

    The two special guards were placed under arrest immediately after the incident when the teenager was shot dead. In their initial statements, they claimed that they fired warning shots in order to disperse a group of some 30 anti-establishment youths that were throwing stones against the patrol car and deny shooting directly at the victim.

    Also placed on suspension as a result of the incident was the chief of the Exarhia police station, where the two were stationed.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photograph of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.

    [02] Seven arrested for incidents in Athens

    Seven people were arrested on Sunday during the violence that occurred in Athens overnight after the fatal injury of a 15-year-old boy by police in Exarhia.

    A police announcement said that six people were arrested on charges of looting from stores that had their windows smashed in and one for illegally carrying weapons.

    The overall toll of damage inflicted during the rioting included the torching of eight shops, seven banks and 20 cars. The most serious damage was caused to a three-storey Sprider sports good store in Kapnikarea streets and an Intersport outlet at Monastiraki Square.

    Among the cars torched were also six police patrol cars parked outside the Acropolis police station, which was attacked with firebombs during the night.

    Damage by rioters wielding rocks, sticks and other implements was also caused to another 23 retail shops, five vehicles and two banks, while 24 police officers were taken to hospital for injuries caused by thrown objects, one of whom was admitted for treatment.

    Police said the incidents started after roughly 1,000 demonstrators gathered in Exarhia and then the Athens Polytechnic to protest against the 15-year-old's shooting. These then broke up into small groups and started to inflict damage and clash with police throughout the city centre.

    [03] Rioting after teenager shot by police

    Rioting broke out in Athens and other Greek cities in the early hours of Sunday, after news began to spread of a teenager's death at the hands of police in the Athens district of Exarhia the previous night. The 15-year-old boy was shot in the chest and died of his injuries shortly after being taken to hospital.

    The incident occurred shortly after 9:00 on Saturday night when a police patrol car responding to a call in the Exarhia district was surrounded by a gang of 30 youths belonging to leftist, anti-establishment groups that started throwing stones and bits of wood.

    The two special guards in the patrol decided to pursue the youths and, in the ensuing fracas, one of them fired his service revolver to disperse them, injuring the 15-year-old highschool student. The officer who fired claims he shot twice in the air and once at the ground and that the bullet that injured the boy must have ricocheted.

    The two officers have been placed under arrest, while Deputy Interior Minister for public order issues, Panagiotis Hinofotis, immediately initiated action to place the pair on suspension, as well as their supervisor at the Exarhia police station.

    Police headquarters said that an investigation was underway to determine whether the events had occurred in the way described by the two officers, while an autopsy has been order to confirm their claim that they did not shoot directly at the victim.

    Caption: Firemen standing outside a blazing building torched during riots by anti-establishment youths in central Athens that took place on Saturday night and the early hours of Sunday, in response to the shooting of a teenage boy at the hands police. ANA-MPA - Orestis Panagiotou


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