Protesters Clash With Police Outside Greek Parliament | Europe | News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 09.12.2008

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Protesters Clash With Police Outside Greek Parliament

Police are successfully blocking attempts by protesters to storm the parliament in Athens. Authorities across Greece are bracing themselves for more protests as the teenager shot dead by police is buried.

Riot police

Riot police sought to regain control in the streets of Athens

Hundreds of protesters have clashed with police on Tuesday, Dec. 9, in front of Greece's parliament. Lines of riot police have been fighting off demonstrators, many throwing stones and bottles at them.

Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of high school and university students are in Athens for the funeral of Andreas-Alexandros Grigoropoulos on Tuesday. The 15-year-old was fatally shot by police over the weekend, triggering the worst rioting Greece has experienced in decades.

The Greek Culture Ministry declared Tuesday a day of mourning. All schools across the country remain closed. Young people plan to commemorate Grigoropoulos in the Athens city center in the afternoon. For the evening, the opposition Socialist party Pasok has called for a candlelight demonstration.

Athen's Christmas tree burns

Rioters even torched Athens' giant Christmas tree in central Syntagma Square

"An entire generation is mourning on the streets today," said Pasok leader George Papandreou.

Papandreou called for peaceful protests during the day of the funeral. People should demonstrate "against the force of the state and against the violence towards fellow countrymen."

According to Greek television reports, Grigoropoulos' funeral is taking place on Tuesday afternoon in the Athens suburb Palaio Faliro.

Police already in the morning hours began increasing security measures at the small cemetery, with authorities across the country braced for further violence. In addition, Greek unions have called a 24-hour general strike for Wednesday.

Rioters can expect drastic measures

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said there would be no leniency in dealing with the rioters.

"No one has the right to misuse this tragic incident as an alibi for actions of raw violence, for actions against innocent people, against their property, against the entire society and against democracy," he said on Tuesday following a crisis meeting with President Karolos Papoulias.

A car burns outside Athens University

The damage across Greece is estimated to total millions of euros

"All the dangerous and unacceptable events that occurred because of the emotions that followed the tragic incident cannot and will not be tolerated," Karamanlis said.

The prime minister began emergency talks on Tuesday on ways to halt the rioting that is threatening the conservative government.

"In these critical hours, all politicians have to isolate and condemn those causing this chaos," Karamanlis said.

According to Greek media reports, the meeting is an attempt to reach a consensus among all top politicians so that the police can end the riots across the country with force, if necessary.

Rioting could have political implications

Riot police stand ready for action in a central part of the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki

Festively decorated Greek streets were lit up by rioters' fires

Political analysts have said the government's grip on power is weakening. Karamanlis' party only holds a one-seat majority in parliament and was already trailing the opposition Socialists by more than five percentage points before the riots.

Pasok leader Papandreou accused the conservative government of incompetence and called for new elections.

"The only thing this government can offer is to resign and turn to the people for its verdict," Papandreou told a party meeting inside parliament. "We claim power."

Government promises complete investigation

The exact events leading up to Grigoropoulos' death still remain unclear. The policeman who fired the deadly bullet continued to confirm he solely fired warning shots. One of them ricocheted and hit the boy. But at least three eye witnesses have said on Greek television that the policeman aimed directly at the boy and shot him.

Karamanlis said there would be a complete investigation to clarify the teenager's death and the guilty party would be brought to justice.

"I have assured the country's president: we will not show any mercy for those responsible," he said.

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