Thursday, October 22, 2009
Greek law and order minister says police out of control
Greek police have been accused of heavy handedness and over - reaction after a raid on a bookshop in central Athens following a book reading by the author Dimitris Papachristos. Shortly after the reading approximately 50 masked riot police surrounded the Floral bookshop in the Exarchia district and arrested two teenagers inside prompting protests by members of the audience, including the author and journalists, Sotiris Damatapoulos, reporter with the Greek state broadcaster ERT and Stelios Elliniadis, radio presenter who demanded to know why the officers were masked and had covered their ID numbers. As a result all three were also arrested.
On hearing of the event head of the newly formed Ministry for the Protection of the Citizen, Michalis Chrysohoidis demanded that the release of those being held in the central Athens police station and according to the TVXS independent news service said that the officers were out of control.
Last night's raid followed clashes between police and local youths in the area in which stones and bottles were thrown. However, many left wing groups have accused the police of acting as an army of occupation with mass sweeps and arrests of local residents and visitors to the area.
Questions still remain over how much oversight the newly elected PASOK government can exercise upon the nation's police force which has repeatedly been condemned by the UNHCR, Amnesty International and many other European humans rights groups over its violent treatment of immigrants and supporters of opposition groups. Universities in Athens and Thessaloniki, Greece's second city were occupied this week by students protesting the death of Pakistani national, Mohammed, Kameran Atif following his detention by police in the Nikia district of Attiki.
Despite sparking off nationwide riots which cost the country billions of euros in damage and brought Athens and many other Greek cities to a halt for days on end the Greek police force seems to have learnt little from the violent December protests which followed the death of a 15 year old shot by an officer in the Exarchia.
Minister for the Protection of the Citizen, Michalis Chrysohoidis sought and received the resignation of the head of Greek police force EL. AS, Vasilis Tsiatouras this evening.