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Greek students keep up protests amid police brutality claims

/ 12:38 PM March 11, 2021
GREECE POLICE

Greek students march against police brutality and against a plan to create a new police for universities, after evening clashes with security forces over bitter allegations of police violence, in central Athens, on March 10, 2021. The protests follow months of anger in the Greek media and among campaigners over numerous high-profile cases of alleged police brutality at student and left-wing protests. The authorities reported 10 officers were hurt on March 9, 2021 — one with serious head injuries — and 16 people were arrested on the sidelines of a demonstration by some 5,000 people. Photo by Louisa GOULIAMAKI / AFP

ATHENS — More than 1,000 students kept up protests on Wednesday in the Greek capital after clashes with security forces over bitter allegations of police violence.

The authorities reported 10 officers were hurt on Tuesday evening — one with serious head injuries — and 16 people were arrested on the sidelines of a demonstration by some 5,000 people.

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Two hundred hooded protesters threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at a police station in the Nea Smyrni suburb, AFP reported. Police responded with tear gas and water cannon.

Video footage showed the badly injured officer had been dragged off his motorbike and beaten.

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Police sources said the main suspect in the attack, a 30-year-old, had been arrested on Wednesday.

The 16 detained — seven of them minors — were placed in custody on Wednesday.

A 22-year-old man faces charges of attempted murder, while the others are accused of grievous bodily harm, violence and insults, and arson as well as breaking Covid restrictions, police said.

The protests follow months of anger in the Greek media and among campaigners over numerous high-profile cases of alleged police brutality at student and left-wing protests.

Uproar followed release of a video that went viral showing an officer beating a man with a baton Sunday during a patrol to enforce a coronavirus lockdown.

His screams of “I’m in pain” have become a hashtag on social networks.

The officer accused of the beating has been suspended, police sources said, and an inquiry opened.

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Police said 1,000 students were on the streets Wednesday afternoon, but an AFP reporter estimated the numbers at double that figure.

“Repression will not win” read one banner at the protest called specifically against the setting up of a university police force.

Government spokesperson Aristolelia Peloni accused left-wing opposition party Syriza of “stoking the tensions” and “irresponsibility” at an already difficult time under the pandemic.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis urged people to ensure that “the sad images of violence that we have seen in Athens this (Tuesday) evening are the last”.

“I will not allow anyone to divide us,” he said.

Athens residents are under stay-at-home orders — with only essential trips allowed — in a bid to tame the coronavirus, which has claimed some 6,800 lives in Greece.

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