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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] PM visits Massinia
  • [03] Navy marks St. Nicholas day
  • [04] Greek Press Review

  • [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.

    Self-styled anarchists and youths belonging to far-left militant groups ran rampage throughout the night and again at demonstrations on Sunday afternoon, coming out in force to protest against the killing of the 15-year-old. The boy was shot during a skirmish between two police officers and a group of about 30 youths belonging to Exarhia's fringe anti-establishment movement that attacked their patrol car on Saturday night. The 15-year-old boy was shot in the chest and died of his injuries shortly after being taken to hospital.

    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 underlined 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 said.

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

    According to the initial statement given by the two officers, 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 that started throwing stones and bits of wood at them.

    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.

    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 and ballistics report have been ordered to confirm their claim that they did not shoot directly at the victim.

    City centres laid waste by demonstrations, rioting

    Cities throughout Greece were licking their wounds and taking stock of the damage on Sunday morning, after the death of a teenager at the hands of police sparked some of the worst rioting seen in the country for decades. They then had to contend with a renewed bout of violence later the same day, as demonstrations against the killing degenerated into open battles between far-left demonstrators and riot police.

    Central Athens was the scene of chaos on Sunday as buildings, banks, supermarkets, shops and cars were put to the torch by rioters and streets were cordoned off as protestors wreaked havoc and skirmished with police.

    Violence was also reported in the cities of Thessaloniki, Patras, Ioannina and Hania, in incidents that lasted until the early hours of the morning and then resumed during demonstrations held after midday. Several police stations were attacked during the night and police officers in several cities became the targets of violence, while patrol cars were torched.

    The most serious damage in Athens during the night was to a three-storey Sprider sports good store in Kapnikarea streets, which was practically gutted, and an Intersport outlet at Monastiraki Square. During demonstrations on Sunday afternoon, protestors also torched an environment ministry building on Alexandras Avenue, while a Veropoulos supermarket and car dealership were burnt nearly to the ground.

    Extensive damage to shops, banks and cars was caused by rioters wielding rocks, sticks and other implements, while 24 police officers were taken to hospital for injuries caused by thrown objects, one of whom was admitted for treatment.

    The march in Athens on Sunday was once again marked by mayhem that carried on until late into the evening, as youths belonging to far-left groups came to blows with MAT riot police on Alexandras Avenue and later around the area of the Athens Polytechnic.

    The streets of the city were rank with the smell of tear gas throughout most of the day as Alexandras Avenue was turned into a battle field, with pockets of violence between rioters and police along the length of Patission and Stournari Streets.

    [02] PM visits Massinia

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis carried out a visit to Messinia in the Peloponnese on Saturday, where he had a meeting with local business people and officials at the Messinia chamber of commerce and inspected work for the construction of the Tripoli-Megalopolis national highway.

    In his speech during the meeting, the prime minister said there was an imperative need to join all forces available during this time of crisis for the global economy, and for all sides to commit to the effort.

    "Only by steadfastly following the road of responsibility can we ensure that the repercussions of the crisis are the least possible for the real economy, for enterprise, employment and household incomes," he stressed.

    He also stressed the government's strong concern to help those worst affected by the crisis, which had prompted it to establish "seven, new, tangible and targeted measures to support the less privileged, those on small pensions and the unemployed," such as the welfare actions announced in Parliament on Friday.

    The government, the premier said, was supporting small and medium-sized enterprises by increasing liquidity, by transferring as many funds as possible from the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) for the new period to assist them, by giving them access to loans through the Guarantee Fund and through programmes to boost employment and competitiveness for micro-enterprises and small enterprises.

    Karamanlis said that the Greek economy was showing strong resilience to the crisis and stressed that this was not a coincidence but a result of the reforms and fiscal overhaul that had been carried out in Greece in the past years.

    He noted that this strategy had also allowed the government to reduce taxes from 27 percent to 25 percent and to not impose any new taxes in 2009.

    The premier then pointed to the support made available for farmers, listing measures for the support of new farmers and to help farmers with servicing loans and receiving compensation for crops lost due to natural disasters.

    He then referred to several infrastructure projects that were underway in Messinia, which were designed to boost the competitiveness of the prefecture's agricultural and business sectors, and pointed to the measures taken so far to assist farmers and livestock breeders stricken by the 2007 mega fires.

    Among these he emphasised work to complete the Corinth-Tripoli-Kalamata highway, due to be delivered in 2011, which he said would give the Peloponnese a fast highway built according to European standards that would shorten travel times from Corinth to Kalamata to roughly 75 minutes and from Corinth to Sparta to 90 minutes.

    Earlier, the prime minister had visited the work being carried out on the Tripolis-Megalopolis road, accompanied by Deputy Employment Minister Sofia Kalantzakou, Deputy Education Minister Andreas Lykourentzos, a number of MPs for the region, Messinia Prefect Dimitris Drakos and ND Central Committee Secretary Lefteris Zagoritis.

    He inspected a section of the Rapsomati tunnel, the bridge under construction at Thoknia and the section of the road from Paradisia-Tsakona that had collapsed in the winter of 2003 and was being rebuilt.

    Afterwards, Karamanlis said that the projects were making satisfactory progress and would be completed within the set deadlines.

    Caption: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis addressing productive classes at the Messinia prefecture's chamber of commerce in Kalamata on Saturday.

    [03] Navy marks St. Nicholas day

    The Greek Navy on Saturday paid tribute to the patron saint of sailors, St. Nicholas, during a special ceremony held at the Hellenic Naval Academy that was attended by National Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis.

    The event was addressed by Hellenic Navy General Staff chief Vice Admiral George Karamalikis, who stressed that the Navy was the only branch of the armed forces that was able to exert military pressure and support defence diplomacy without increasing tension and without provoking.

    He gave assurances that the Hellenic Navy was in a position to meet the challenges of the era and the demands of the nation.

    Meimarakis gave a brief address, conveying the best wishes and affection of the prime minister for the Hellenic Navy during its day of celebration.

    He stressed that the Armed Forces were an institution that enjoyed the highest degree of recognition among the general public and that this was an achievement that the armed forces had themselves brought about by abiding by an unwritten code of morality.

    [04] Greek Press Review

    The Sunday edition of Athens' newspapers at a glance

    The Vatopedi monastery land swaps furore, the financial crisis and the government's attempts to reverse the current negative climate in opinion polls dominated the headlines in Athens' newspapers on Sunday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Criminal charges for the Vatopedi scandal"

    APOGEVMATINI: "Measures for semi-outdoor spaces. An end to a hostage situation for thousand of property owners".

    ARTHRO: "Rift within PASOK over preliminary examination committee"

    AVGHI: "Exit from the crisis with radical changes"

    AVRIANI: "Karamanlis decides on an electable government profile and bold initiatives to reverse the political climate".

    CHORA: "Government in freefall, opinion polls show. The parachute isn't opening"

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Cyprus secret for the 'holy' business deals"

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Charges for 5+1. The time to assign responsibility. The parties drafting the conclusions for Vatopedi. Who they incriminate, who they exonerate"

    ETHNOS: "The Church in a vortex due to Ephraim's financial sins"

    EPOCHI: "You don't get out of a crisis using the same door you came in"

    KATHIMERINI: "Crisis of confidence in the economy. Citizens question the policy being followed".

    LOGOS: "Political initiatives in the prime minister's 'quiver'. Reshuffle in 2009"

    NIKI: "Shocks for market. Difficult days on the way for businesses"

    PARON: "Karamanlis to 'pimps' and heirs: I will not become Simitis!" (claims PM will refuse to back a successor in the party coming up to elections).

    PROTO THEMA: "Ten New Democracy MPs dare: We are politically responsible for Vatopedi"

    RIZOSPASTIS: "All with PAME to satisfy our needs. Alert for the strike on Wednesday 10 December throughout the country"

    TO VIMA: "Karamanlis is playing his last card,"

    VRADYNI: "Shield-plan for unemployment"


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