Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Riots and Looting Erupt After Police Kill Schoolboy


Riots and looting erupted across Athens yesterday as the Greek Government confronted a sixth day of violent protests over the police killing of a schoolboy.

Demonstrators clashed with security forces outside the country's biggest prison and a university in central Athens, and police said groups of youths were looting shops in various districts. Others blocked main roads.

More demonstrations were expected in Athens last night.

The unrest continued as a police officer appeared in court to be charged with voluntary homicide over the killing of a teenager that sparked nationwide riots.

Epaminondas Korkoneas, 37, has also been charged with the "illegal use" of his service weapon over the killing of Alexis Grigoropoulos, 15, and was ordered by a magistrate to remain in custody. The officer's partner, Vassilios Saraliotis, 31, was charged with being an accomplice and will remain in custody.

Korkoneas is alleged to have killed Alexis on Saturday during a clash with about 30 youths in the Athens district of Exarchia.

Questioned by a magistrate, Korkoneas said he acted out of self-defence when the group began throwing firebombs and other objects while shouting that they "were going to kill them".

Opposition to the Government's conservative fiscal policies and plans to privatise hospitals and schools is unlikely to fade soon. A poll for the newspaper Kathimerini found 68 per cent of Greeks believed the Government had mishandled the crisis, including about half of respondents who voted for the right-wing New Democracy party of the Prime Minister, Costas Karamanlis, in elections last year.

Agence France-Presse; Guardian News & Media; Telegraph, London

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