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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-12-09
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Noted attorney assumes defence of officers charged in teen's deathA well-known Athens-area criminal defence attorney has taken over the defence of the two special police guards accused in the shooting death of a teenage boy in Athens' Exarhia district on Saturday. The defendants will testify only after a preliminary investigation is completed and after receiving autopsy and ballistics test reports, according to a press release issued by Alexis Kouyias' law office on Tuesday. The press release added that otherwise the police officers' defence team will request more time to prepare their case. Kouyias said his clients are innocent until proven guilty and called on authorities and the press to respect this fact, in order "to help justice hand down an unbiased and fair judgement."
 National Bank of Greece announces measures for damaged businessesSpecial measures aimed at restoring the smooth operation of small and medium-sized businesses damaged during rioting in several Greek cities over the past few days were announced by the National Bank of Greece on Tuesday. The measures include suspension of payments of monthly loan instalments for a period of up to 12 months, as well as issuance of new loans with a 12-month grace period, aimed at repairing damaged businesses and to replace equipment and merchandise. National Bank is the largest financial institution in SE Europe.
 Damages assessed after violenceNinety-two arrests were reported during unprecedented violence in central Athens late Monday, the third day of rioting sparked by the shooting death of a 15-year-old teen by police in the Exarhia district of central Athens on Saturday.
Felony and misdemeanor charges were filed against the suspects by a public prosecutor on Tuesday, with charges ranging from vandalism and assaults against police officers to looting.
A total of 176 people were taken in for questioning throughout the night by authorities, of which 87 were arrested and charged.
Among the shops destroyed and looted was a replica firearms shop in downtown Omonia Square.
Additionally, 12 police officers were injured during the violence in Athens.
Dozens of office buildings, department stores, shops, the city's landmark Christmas tree, numerous banks, two hotels, public buildings, a building housing foreign ministry services, an economy ministry annex, among others, were among the buildings set fire to or damaged in the rioting in Athens.
In Thessaloniki, 16 people were arrested, including a 14-year-old youth, for looting shops in the city centre after damage caused by masked individuals during demonstrations, and were due to be brought before a public prosecutor.
Thessaloniki authorities said the suspects included local residents and eight foreign nationals -- Romanian and Albanian nationals. Police said that of the 16 suspects, 14 were charged with theft, while the other two were charged with attempted theft.
Another 10 people were arrested on the island of Rhodes, mainly students and pupils, in violence during a demonstration in the city centre after midnight, in which protestors set fire to 30 trash receptacles, destroyed tens of lighting pylons, set fire to the local court building and caused damage to banks and other buildings.
A further 16 people were arrested in Kozani and Kastoria for taking part in violence on Monday night in the two cities. Fifteen of the arrests were in Kozani in clashes between demonstrators and police that had turned the city center into a battlefield, with destruction of merchant shops and banks, while the other arrest was in Kastoria, where several police patrol cars were smashed.
Rioting was also reported in Larissa, Corinth, on the island of Crete and Ioannina, among others.
 PM requests cancellation of ralliesPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis has addressed letters to the heads of the country's largest trade unions, the GSEE union umbrella organisation and the ADEDY civil servants' union, calling on them to cancel planned rallies for Wednesday, amid heightened concerns over renewed rioting and violence in downtown Athens.
According to reports on Tuesday afternoon, the Greek premier stressed in his letters that some quarters have used the tragic shooting death of 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos as an "alibi" to engage in "unprecedented violence" against "innocent citizens, against property and against all of society; acts which harm democracy itself."
In his letter to GSEE President Yiannis Panagopoulos and ADEDY head Spyros Papaspyros, Karamanlis emphasises:
"Demands and protest are absolutely respected and inviolable democratic rights. However, due to the situation that has developed over the last few days, I call on you to show the required responsibility and cancel the planned rallies for tomorrow's (Wednesday) 24-hour strike, so that there is no opportunity to exploit an event by wage-earners in order to proceed with new acts of catastrophic violence," Karamanlis said in reference to the violence by self-styled anarchists and anti-state activists that plagued urban centres in Greece since Saturday evening.
Caption: A scene from street disturbances in the Cretan port city of Hania on Monday, Dec. 12, 2008. ANA-MPA / S. RAPANIS.
 Alavanos: Political solutions neededGreece was up against a new social uprising by its youth, Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alekos Alavanos said on Tuesday after meeting Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. He stressed that the situation could not be answered with greater authoritarianism but demanded political solutions to address the problems of young people.
"New Democracy's policy is the policy of fire," Alavanos said in criticism of the government's stance, noting that it was now unable to put out fires raging in Greek cities just as it had been unable to quench fires that incinerated Greek forests in 2007.
He predicted that the death of 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos, who was shot dead by police, had triggered a social phenomenon that would be extensive.
"We are faced with political problems demanding political solutions," Alavanos underlined in statements to reporters, calling for more jobs, more rights for workers and radical democratic reforms within the police force.
The rioting showed that the country could not stay as it was, SYRIZA's leader said and stressed that the government must actively apologise, by taking measures that would deal with the problems faced by young people.
SYRIZA called on the people and the younger generation "to move on to a great change so that the present government will go," Alavanos added.
Asked whether he condemned the destruction inflicted on central Athens by rioting youths, Alavanos indicated that this was self-evident:
"Do you imagine that we applaud them? Look at which forces benefit from this situation," he pointed out, while rejecting a statement by Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga that SYRIZA was "indulging" the rioters.
The prime minister on Tuesday requested to meet the leaders of all the political parties to discuss the situation that has arisen in Greece after three days of non-stop violence, demonstrations, rioting and looting that have rocked the country after the teenage boy was shot down in Exarhia on Saturday night.
Caption: Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alekos Alavanos making statements to reporters after his meeting with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday, December 9. ANA-MPA - Katerina Mavrona.
 Athens to offer fee exemptionAthens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis on Tuesday conveyed condolences on behalf of the Greek capital's municipal council to the family of the 16-year-old youth who died on Saturday in a police shooting, suspended all municipal Christmas events and lighting in central squares and monuments until further notice.
Kaklamanis, the former health minister, also expressed his deep sorrow over the unprecedented violence that erupted in Athens' commercial centre.
The Athens mayor assured business owners and citizens whose property was damaged that municipal services would invest every possible effort in restoration works so as to "re-establish stability in a time of economic crisis which is affecting the majority of Athenians."
Among others, the city government is expected to submit a proposal to the city council recommending that business establishments hit by riot-related damage receive an exemption from payment of 2009 municipal rates.
Caption: Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis. ANA-MPA file photo.
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