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Riots continue in Athens on anniversary of Alexandros Grigoropoulos’s killing

By • Dec 10th, 2009 • Category: News & Analysis

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Source: The Sofia Echo

Riots in Athens and Thessaloníki are continuing on the one year anniversary of the death of Alexandros Grigoropoulos, Greek media reported on December 9 2009.

Violence broke out in Exarchia Square, a region in central Athens between the Polytechnic University and Ipokrateous Street, among anarchists and MAT police units (Greek riot control). Subsequently, the disorder spilled out to other regions in Athens and other towns in the country.

Grigoropoulos (15) was shot dead in Exarchia square on December 6 2008, sparking the biggest riots in Greece since the fall of the Regime of the Colonels in 1973 and the Polytechnic University Massacre, resulting in mayhem and destruction of hundreds of stores and vehicles.

The exact location where the youngster was shot was visited by friends and relatives who wanted to pay their respects, but scores of hooded youths quickly separated from the memorial proceedings, regrouped and attacked the police units and transformed Athens into a battlefield, eyewitnesses told both Bulgarian and Greek media.

The city was transformed into a war zone, strewn with stones, slabs, bottles, Molotov cocktails and the stench of piles of rubbish burning from the petrol bombs because local refuse collectors are on strike.

Riots started over the weekend followed by violence for the second day running of the anniversary, while demonstrations were held at the Polytechnic University and Thessaloniki’s Aristotle University.

According to the Greek Kathimerini, over the weekend about 850 people were detained and 147 arrested in protests across Greece. Most were released without charges. In the capital, on the other hand, 31 are to face a prosecutor charged with hooliganism, destruction of property and an attack on Athens University’s rector, Christos Kittas, who was admitted to the hospital in the aftermath of the assault.

Ever since the Polytechnic University Massacre in 1973, there has been a university asylum law which states that no matter the circumstances, the police may not enter the university and arrest people inside. This may change, however, because on December 8 2009, Greek politicians and academics requested that the government instigate a review of the university asylum law which, if revised, will put an end to the save haven for anarchists in and around Exarchia Square.

The asylum law can be traced back to the Greek military junta and the iconic events of the Polytechnic uprising on November 17 1973, which culminated in the overthrow of the Greece’s military dictatorship. Students were barricaded in the premises of the university for several days when the authorities sent in a AMX-30 Greek army tank smashing in through the main gate and shooting students indiscriminately. Reportedly, about 28 students were killed, while many others were injured.

National outrage in the aftermath of this massacre eventually brought down the Regime of the Colonels.

However, in the aftermath of the latest battles in and around the institution, Polytechnic University rector Constantinos Moutzouris was quoted as saying by Kathimerini “As much as I am in favour of the asylum law, I am troubled by the intensity of the incidents and how we can confront violence”.

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4 Responses »

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