Greece remembers anti-austerity riot victims
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Greece on Saturday marked the tenth anniversary of a deadly firebomb attack on a bank during anti-austerity riots, as a coronavirus lockdown raised fears of another recession.
On May 5, 2010 a protest against debt-laden Greece's first loan agreement with international creditors saw a firebomb lobbed at the Marfin bank in central Athens, leading to the death of three bank workers, including a pregnant woman.
Three bank officials received manslaughter sentences but the culprits were never caught.
The attack came just three days after the socialist government of George Papandreou signed the first of three eventual bailouts with the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF that would total 350 billion euros.
In the years that followed, a quarter of Greek national output would be wiped out in wage and pension cuts and tax hikes demanded by the creditors.
"Tragic incidents like that are not compatible with our democratic tradition nor with the society we are dreaming of," President Katerina Sakellaropoulou said during a ceremony outside the building that housed the bank.
"I hope we won't experience such manifestations of violence in our country ever again," she said.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis laid a wreath outside the former Marfin bank building.
Earlier this week he had urged the leaders of all parliamentary parties to be present in order to "leave behind the era of division and violence".
The austerity policies were widely associated with the now ruling New Democracy party but also with the socialist party that was then in government.
The main opposition leftist Syriza party, which had been accused of fuelling the violent 2010 riots, on Saturday called for the perpetrators to be identified and punished.
Ten years on, Greece is facing recession once again because of the global coronavirus crisis. A lockdown was imposed on March 23 and is gradually being eased from the start of this week.
Though the death toll is low at 150, the prime minister has warned of a downturn.
With tourism being one of Greece’s most important sources of revenue, along with shipping, the Greek government estimates it could lose 8-10 billion euros ($8.8-11 billion) in income this year.
© 2020 AFP