Violent officers to be punished
Two days after a 30-year-old demonstrator sustained serious head injuries after being beaten by police during an anti-austerity rally, Citizens’ Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis heralded the exemplary punishment of the officers involved and suggested that some units of the Greek Police might have to be abolished or radically reformed.
In a speech before the heads of all police units yesterday, Papoutsis said that officers using unwarranted tactics to repress demonstrators – or in other situations – would not be tolerated. He said authorities would find and punish “those who exercize violence against citizens or exploit their power in an abusive or offensive way.”
The minister directed broader criticism at the force’s various departments. “Unfortunately, recent developments partially justify the public’s mistrust of the police,” he said, adding that “despite the efforts of successive leaders, there remains a clear democratic deficit.” The minister attributed the violent outbursts of some officers to fatigue, low morale and inadequate training.
In his speech, Papoutsis spoke of “frontline units” that might have to be abolished or restructured, a reference that was broadly interpreted as signifying the motorcycle-riding unit DIAS or the Delta rapid-reaction force, although ministry officials denied that this was the case. “However strong, effective and popular a service may appear, it is preferable that it be abol- ished and recreated than that it be allowed to operate with an impunity that allows for disobedient and undisciplined behavior and abuse of power on the one hand, and on the other allows for solidarity from colleagues in the event of wrongdoing,” Papoutsis said.
Police remained on standby in the city center last night following a third day of tensions fueled by outbreaks of violence. Demonstrators protesting Tuesday’s murder of a 44-year-old Greek man by suspected immigrants staged another protest yesterday while migrants held a press conference to draw attention to a recent increase in racially motivated attacks such as the fatal stabbing early on Thursday of a 21year-old Bangladeshi man.