1. Inhalt
  2. Navigation
  3. Weitere Inhalte
  4. Metanavigation
  5. Suche
  6. Choose from 30 Languages

Europe

Greek Authorities at a Loss as Rioting, Protests Continue

Rioting and protests over the shooting of a teenager by police continued to spread across Greece Monday, leaving authorities frustrated by their inability to stop the country's worst civil unrest in decades.

Riot police try to avoid a petrol bomb during clashes in central Athens on Sunday, Dec. 7, 2008.

Greek authorities grow frustrated as their efforts to stop the rioting continue to fail

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis once again appealed for calm after an emergency meeting Monday with his ministers and top security officials, trying to find a way to break the chain of violent events.

"The state needs to protect society," said the prime minister in a live televised address. "The emotions that followed the tragic incident cannot and will not be tolerated."

But despite the pleas, violence erupted again with many fearing it would continue unabated for days.

Hundreds of students, armed with fire bombs and stones, clashed with police and smashed storefronts in the northern port city of Thessaloniki on Monday while gangs of youths attacked police stations and government buildings in Athens.

From the northern city of Veria to the central city of Trikala, students battled riot police who retaliated by firing tear gas. On Crete, gangs of high school students threw chairs, wood and rocks at security forces.

Authorities fear unrest could last for days

Protesters throw chair and fire bombs to riot police during clashes in the northern port city of Thessaloniki, Greece, on Sunday, Dec. 7, 2008.

With more demonstrations planned, police fear more violence

Officials said they expect more demonstrations and unrest in Athens as students and the Greek Communist Party are expected to hold protests throughout the day. With a 24-hour general strike called for Wednesday, many expressed fears that the demonstrations could last for days.

Confrontations between protesters and police also broke out in Berlin, London and Cyprus as youths occupied Greek diplomatic missions.

In London, some 40 demonstrators pulled down the Greek flag and raised a red and black anarchists' banner at the Greek Embassy.

The widespread riots that hit Greece began shortly after the fatal shooting of a teenager in the central Athens' bohemian district of Exarchia on Saturday.

The area, haunt of artists but also of drug addicts and petty criminals, is considered one of the city's most violent areas. Clashes between police and youths, eager to challenge authority, occur almost nightly.

The exact circumstances are still unclear surrounding the shooting of the boy - whose age was reported in varying accounts as either 15 or 16.

Police said the shooting occurred after groups of youths began attacking a police car with stones and firebombs.

A purported warning shot by a police officer inflicted a serious stomach wound to the teenager, who died on arrival at a hospital.

Police accused of "cold-blooded murder"

Protesters at the Greek Consulate in Berlin

Protests have spread to other European cities

Witnesses claim that there was only a verbal exchange between the youths and police, and that the police officer shot fired into the group. "It was cold-blooded murder," a witness told a radio broadcaster.

Despite charges of manslaughter filed against two of the police officers allegedly involved in the shooting, the violence continued unabated with hundreds of students clashing with police in the northern port city of Thessaloniki on Monday, hurling fire bombs and stones.

Officials said they expect more demonstrations and unrest in Athens as students and the Greek Communist Party are expected to hold protests throughout the day. With a 24-hour general strike called for Wednesday, many expressed fears that the demonstrations could last for days.

"More demonstrations mean more trouble," said Panagiotis Likas, a shopkeeper in the tourist area of Plaka. "I don't think I will be keeping my shop open for very long today."

The shooting of the boy hit a raw spot for thousands of Greeks and youngsters, disillusioned by scandals, economic discontent and growing poverty.

News of the shooting spread like wildfire and after 24-hours of rioting the center of Athens, the northern port city of Thessaloniki and other cities such as Patras, Ioannina, Hania and Iraklio looked like a war zone.

Greek cities turned into war-zones

Owners of a Volkswagen dealership try to extinguish a fire during clashes in central Athens on Sunday, Dec. 7, 2008.

Businesses have been torched as the riots spread

Dozens of people have been injured and scores of businesses destroyed during Greece's worst rioting in decades.

The daily newspaper Apogevmatini described the riots as "48 hours of horror" on its front page while Eleftheros Typos headlined: "Athens and Thessaloniki under siege."

Entire streets and avenues remained blocked by burned and overturned vehicles, and garbage bins and teargas filled the air in areas of Athens and Thessaloniki.

At least 25 police were reported injured - four seriously - and 11 civilians were reported hospitalized in Athens, three in Patras and one in Thessaloniki with injuries sustained during the riots.

The shooting has been described by the media as one of the worst incidents of police violence in more than a decade and the first time since 1985 that Greek police have killed a minor.

Karamanlis' government faced a series of protests from labor groups and students in recent months. Reports said that Karamanlis, whose government rules with a slim majority, may be forced to call early elections.

Public unrest has grown with the conservative government's austerity measures, with unions regularly demonstrating against privatizations, pension reforms and the cost of living. One-fifth of Greeks live below the poverty line.

"This was bound to happen. The government and police believe they are invincible and that they public should put up with its scandals and brutality," said 45-year-old housewife Angeliki Papadopoulou, summing up a widely-held view.

University professors meanwhile began a three-day walkout on Monday and tens of thousands of students refused anyway to attend classes, in protest.

DW recommends