Greece: Call for calm after unrest following police shooting
( AP )
Greece’s government called for calm Thursday after overnight unrest in an Athens neighborhood and an area outside the country’s second-largest city following the police shooting of a Roma teenager.
Protesters in the industrial eastern Athens neighborhood of Aspropyrgos allegedly torched a local tire business and a bus and set up burning barricades in the streets. Authorities issued a warning to residents of Aspropyrgos around midnight Wednesday to remain indoors with windows and doors closed.
Greece’s state-run broadcaster ERT said protesters from a nearby Roma settlement had broken into the tire business and torched it.
In northern Greece, protesters from nearby Roma settlements also set up road blocks in the area of Chalkidona, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of Thessaloniki, and one other area.
“I would like to ask for calm and prudence from all, but also to state clearly that there will not be the slightest tolerance of aggressive, illegal, violent behavior toward law enforcement officers,” government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou said during a regular government press briefing Thursday.
Protests that have often turned violent have broken out in Thessaloniki, Athens and other areas since Monday, when a police chase of a 16-year-old who allegedly drove off from a Thessaloniki gas station without paying the bill ended with the youth being shot.
The teen, whose identity has not been officially released but was identified by relatives as a member of the Roma community, was shot in the head and remains hospitalized in critical condition.
The 34-year-old police officer who fired the shot has been suspended and is to appear in court Friday for questioning on charges of a felony count of manslaughter with possible intent, and a misdemeanor count of illegally firing his weapon.
The police has said the youth had tried to ram one of the police motorbikes involved in the chase with his pickup truck, and the police officer said during a preliminary court appearance that he had fired because he believed the lives of his colleagues were in danger.
Oikonomou said the case, which he described as a “tragic incident,” was being fully investigated. He said the incident “does not in any way excuse acts of violence and lawlessness being carried out by those who want to protest.”