Greece: clashes at teen-shooting anniversary

Dec. 6, 2010
ATHENS, Greece – Youths hurled rocks and petrol bombs at police Monday during clashes at a student rally marking two years since the fatal police shooting of a teenage boy that sparked Greece’s worst riots in decades.

Sporadic clashes lasting more than two hours occurred in several parts of central Athens after 2,500 people marched to parliament to commemorate the death of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos in 2008. Protesting youths pelted police and a Finance Ministry building with rocks, oranges and flares, and smashed glass phone booths.

Riot police fired tear gas and pepper spray as masked youths used smashed-up paving stones and ripped-up traffic signs to throw at police, and set fire to trash bins to use as barricades, about 300 meters (yards) from parliament and the city’s main Syntagma Square.

Several bank and other store fronts were smashed but the damage was not extensive, and there were no immediate reports from authorities of injuries or arrests.

The 2008 riots was the worst civil unrest Greece had seen in decades, with youths rampaging through cities almost nightly for two weeks.

The trouble also inspired a wave of violence by far-left and anarchist militant groups, reviving decades-old anti-establishment violence rooted in past political upheavals.

Police at the weekend arrested six suspected members of a militant group and seized explosives and weapons from suspected safe houses. Police ballistics tests have so far not matched any of the seized weapons to previous terrorist attacks.

“This was a decisive blow to those who have chosen violence as a way of life and want to terrorize our society,” Public Order Minister Christos Papoutsis told the Athens daily Ta Nea.

On Monday, police closed main roads to traffic around Athens and deployed several thousand officers in the capital. About 2,000 people also attended a protest rally in the country’s second largest city, Thessaloniki.

In October, policeman Epaminondas Korkoneas was convicted of murder for the teenager’s death, and was sentenced to life imprisonment. A second officer was jailed for 10 years.

The dead teenager’s mother said she was planning to set up a foundation to assist victims of mistreatment by the authorities.

“They shot my son in cold blood. He was hit in the heart and died instantly,” Gina Tsalikian told state-run NET television in an interview to be aired later Monday.

“I wish that no other mother goes through what I have been through.”

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