Greece: police attack journalists, lawyers as protest wave continues

Greek journalists Jan. 9 harshly criticized police conduct at a protest in central Athens. Fourteen lawyers were among those detained after an estimated 3,000 people, chiefly teachers and students, took part in the demonstration to commemorate the 1991 murder of Nikos Temponeras, a teacher who was bludgeoned to death by a right-wing unionist. Police used tear gas in clashes with protesters who erected burning barricades. The Athens journalists’ union, ESHEA, protested to the interior ministry about “the brutal attacks and beatings” to which reporters and camera crews had been subjected. Said Interior Minister Procopis Pavolopoulos: “There may have been excesses to be condemned, we are looking into the issue, but the police did their job.” (AFP, Jan. 10)

On Jan. 5, masked gunmen shot and seriously wounded a riot officer in Athens, raising fears that weeks of unrest in Greece are giving way to attacks by an armed extremist group. The officer was in critical but stable condition after being struck twice in a volley of at least 30 shots as he patrolled about 3 AM outside the Ministry of Culture, near a van full of officers, authorities said. The two gunmen escaped after firing an AK-47 assault rifle and a semiautomatic pistol in the ambush in Exarchia, a university neighborhood where a youth uprising erupted a month ago after the shooting death of a 15-year-old boy by police. (LAT, Jan. 6)

See our last post on the struggle in Greece.