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Europe

New Athens skirmish follows night of calm

Video by Susana FERREIRA

Latest update : 2008-12-13

After one of the calmest nights since the shooting of a Greek teenager by police last Saturday, protests continued in the capital Athens for a seventh day. Police briefly clashed with youth on the margins of a peaceful demonstration.

The government "has lost the confidence of the people": read our interview with Greek opposition leader George Papandreou.

 

Read our Observers' accounts of the rioting: The spark that set Greece on fire and Protests in Greece: who are the rioters?

 

Our Face-Off debate asks the question: Is Greece on the verge of collapse?

 

AFP - Riot police on Friday briefly clashed with youths on the margins of a peaceful Athens street march over the fatal weekend shooting of a 15-year-old student by police, as protests over his death continued in the Greek capital and Thessaloniki for a seventh straight day.
   
After one of the calmest nights since the death of Alexis Grigoropoulos last Saturday triggered nationwide riots, police stormed about 100 youths on the sidelines of a demonstration.
   
The youths had thrown firebombs and stones at police who fired back tear gas before the protest rally started a march toward the Greek parliament.
   
A similar demonstration in Thessaloniki ended peacefully.
   
Speaking at an EU summit in Brussels, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis again condemned the violence and argued that Greece ought to be focusing on unfolding financial crisis.
   
"The compassion with which all of us ought to treat the distress of young people cannot be confused with blind violence, with the activities of extreme elements," Karamanlis told Greek reporters at the summit.
   
"At this time the country faces a serious financial crisis...a steady hand on the helm is needed to deal with it. That is my concern, that is the priority of the government, not scenarios about elections and successions."
   
Authorities in Greece remained on alert as more demonstrations are scheduled in both cities this evening, while scores of university campuses and schools across Athens and Greece's second city of Thessaloniki are still occupied.
   
The education ministry on Friday said around 130 high schools were under occupation or otherwise shut across Greece, adding that the numbers were falling from Thursday.
   
The nationwide unrest has left hundreds of banks, stores and public buildings destroyed, badly damaged by fire or looted.
   
Karamanlis, whose parliamentary majority consists of just one deputy, is already shaken by corruption scandals and opposition to unpopular reforms, now faces a new political crisis.
   
Greece's socialist opposition has stepped up calls for the prime minister to call new elections, amid the worst unrest that Greece has seen since the end of military dictatorship in 1974.
   
The crisis has crossed borders, with Greek embassies in Russia, Italy, Spain and Denmark and other countries becoming the target for sometimes violent protests.
   
In Germany, demonstrators threw stones, bottles and paint at police cars during a protest in Frankfurt on Thursday night.
   
Greek protesters say they are striking out against police repression, corrupt politicians and a social system that offers little hope, while the government blames the violence on loosely organised self-styled anarchists.
   
Slogans such as "state killers," "murderers, you will pay," "democracy gives arms, cops assassinate" and "silence only shows complicity" are splashed across banners outside the Athens Polytechnic at the centre of the youth movement.
   
Despite the two officers implicated in the schoolboy's death being placed in pre-trial detention, fresh uproar was caused this week when their lawyer Alexis Kougias said the death "was sadly brought about by an act of God".
   
Kougias' law office in central Athens was trashed on Friday by unknown assailants, a police source said.
   
The officer who shot Grigoropoulos says he was trying to defend himself from a gang of youths and killed the boy by accident due to a bullet ricochet.
   
A ballistics report, which is said to confirm the officer's deposition, has yet to be officially released.
 

Date created : 2008-12-12

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