Fighting crime moves up agenda
Just a few hours after Citizens’ Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis heralded a police crackdown in crime-ridden central Athens yesterday, two police officers were seriously injured in a shootout with two suspects in the northern suburb of Pefki.
The officers had stopped the suspects for an identity check after deeming them to be suspicious. One of the suspects pulled out a gun and opened fire on the officers, hitting them both in the chest. The officers fired back and one of the suspects sustained minor injuries. The other suspect jumped into the officers’ patrol car and fled, according to police who said the vehicle was found abandoned in the nearby neighborhood of Kifissia. Doctors at the KAT hospital in Kifissia where the officers were being treated said they were both in a stable condition.
Earlier in the day, Papoutsis had said that the government would seek to tackle the scourge of spiraling crime in the city’s historic center by increasing police patrols. He added that police would raid derelict buildings where hundreds of undocumented migrants live in cramped and squalid conditions and that authorities would offer incentives for migrants to return to their homelands. Papoutsis added that the planned construction of a fence on the Greek-Turkish land border, a route favored by people smugglers, was to begin soon.
Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis struck a similar note during an emergency council meeting, calling for undocumented migrants without the right to political asylum to be deported. “Illegal immigrants must leave the country and if that doesn’t happen then law enforcers must remove them as the current situation is dramatic and it is the duty of us all to keep the city on its feet.”