Athens Riots Calm as Heavy Rains Dampen Protests | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 12.12.2008
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Athens Riots Calm as Heavy Rains Dampen Protests

Athens saw its calmest night since the outbreak of violence after a fatal police shooting of a Greek teenager last weekend, Greek state radio said Friday.

A protester shouts at riot police in central Athens

Athens has been ravaged by several successive nights of rioting

Police reported a lull in rioting as protests were dampened by heavy rains falling right across Greece.

The quieting came ahead of the release Friday, Dec. 12, of the results of a ballistics examination of the bullet which killed 15-year-old schoolboy Alexandros Grigoropoulos on Saturday. Outrage over the teenager's death sparked widespread riots across Greece and minor flare-ups in other European cities.

The policeman who shot the boy, Epaminondas Korkoneas, remains in custody in a high-security prison in the Athens suburb Korydallos after being charged with voluntary homicide, which under Greek law does not necessarily involve premeditation.

Policeman claims self-defense

A masked protestor throws a stone next to graffiti that reads the democracy kills, in central Athens

Violence and rioting throughout Greece has been fierce

Korkoneas is accused of killing Grigoropoulos during a clash with around 30 youths in the Exarchia district of Athens.

The police officer has claimed self defense. His lawyers said a ballistics analysis indicated the bullet had ricocheted before hitting the schoolboy.

Korkoneas's partner, Vassilios Saraliotis, 31, was charged with being an accomplice and will also remain in custody.

Fresh rallies

New student rallies were planned for Friday and Monday.

On Thursday, the sixth day of demonstrations, about 4,000 students took to the streets in Athens in a protest that turned increasingly violent.

Demonstrators clashed with security forces near the country's biggest prison and a university in central Athens. Crowds threw rocks and other missiles at police, who retaliated using tear gas, a prison guard said.

Attacks on stores in several other areas and road blockades were also reported. More than 400 businesses have been hit by the rioting, with 37 completely gutted. The damage in Athens alone was worth about 200 million euros ($259 million), according to the Greek Commerce Confederation.

Anger at government reforms

Demonstrators hold a picture of Alexandros Grigoropoulos as they gather near the Greek Embassy in Rome

Protests spread around Europe as Greek consulates came under fire

The Athens clashes paralleled similar events in other Greek cities and throughout Europe as anger was focused against Greek consulates.

Analysts say the severity of the violence was caused by long-simmering discontent with the government over a series of financial scandals and unpopular economic, pension and education reforms.

The shooting of Grigoropoulos was seen as the last straw by many young Greeks, whose economic future is bleak in a country with a high unemployment and low wages.

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