Gov’t slammed over re­ac­tion to ver­dict, van­dal­ism

Mit­so­takis and Kami­nis lead crit­i­cism

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

The coali­tion has come un­der se­vere at­tack for its re­ac­tion to a court’s de­ci­sion to re­ject an ap­peal by a 29-yearold PhD stu­dent who was re­cently con­victed for be­ing a mem­ber of an ur­ban guer­rilla group, which led to ex­ten­sive van­dal­ism in cen­tral Athens on Mon­day night.

Dozens of shops in the city cen­ter were at­tacked hours after the Athens Ap­peals Court ruled that the stu­dent, known in the lo­cal me­dia as Iri­anna, should not be re­leased from cus­tody as she ap­peals her 13-year jail sen­tence for be­ing part of Con­spir­acy of the Cells of Fire.

Im­me­di­ately after the rul­ing, Jus­tice Min­is­ter Stavros Kon­to­nis de­scribed the judges’ de­ci­sion as an “un­pleas­ant sur­prise.” Speak­ing yes­ter­day, gov­ern­ment spokesman Dim­itris Tzanakopou­los said the de­ci­sion would be recorded in the “black book” of Greek jus­tice.

Fol­low­ing the van­dal­ism in down­town Athens, New Democ­racy leader Kyr­i­akos Mit­so­takis ac­cused Ci­ti­zens’ Pro­tec­tion Min­is­ter Nikos Toskas of be­ing un­able to carry out his job. He also claimed that the gov­ern­ment is “deeply dam­ag­ing democ­racy and of­fer­ing an alibi to blind vi­o­lence.”

The op­po­si­tion cheif called on all ci­ti­zens to stand against the “in­sti­tu­tional back­slid­ing” that he be­lieves is be­ing caused by the gov­ern­ment. The con­ser­va­tive party said that it was un­prece­dented for a jus­tice min­is­ter to com­ment on a ju­di­cial ver­dict. It ac­cused Kon­to­nis of be­ing the “moral in­sti­ga­tor” of Mon­day night’s vi­o­lence.

Some 500 peo­ple took part in a protest at Mona­s­ti­raki Square in cen­tral Athens on Mon­day night. A smaller group of around 150-200 peo­ple then walked up Er­mou Street and started to at­tack shop win­dows with rocks, ham­mers and other items. They were chased away by riot po­lice when they ap­proached the Fi­nance Min­istry near the top of the com­mer­cial street.

The pro­test­ers threw flares and smoke­bombs at the po­lice, who re­sponded with tear gas. More than 60 stores were dam­aged dur­ing the dis­tur­bances, along with three parked cars and four ATMs. Four­teen peo­ple were de­tained but they were not linked to the van­dal­ism.

A text pub­lished on the an­ar­chist Indy­media web­site later sug­gested that protests over the jail­ing of Iri­anna would con­tinue.

Athens Mayor Gior­gos Kami­nis de­cried the at­tacks and the po­lice’s re­ac­tion after vis­it­ing Er­mou Street yes­ter­day morn­ing to see the dam­age that was caused the night be­fore. He de­scribed the in­ci­dent as be­ing “be­yond any rules of democ­racy.”

The mayor called on the gov­ern­ment to change the leg­is­la­tion so that sus­pects de­tained in con­nec­tion with van­dal­ism can be re­manded in cus­tody rather than re­leased after a few hours. He ex­pressed his con­cern that at­tacks such as Mon­day’s would dam­age com­mer­cial ac­tiv­ity in the cen­ter at a time when trade had been pick­ing up.

“Store own­ers go to open their stores on Sunday and they will not let them,” he told Kathimerini, re­fer­ring to a week­end protest against shops open­ing out­side the usual hours. “Then, peo­ple come at night and smash up their stores. This can­not hap­pen in a mod­ern Euro­pean city.”

A woman passes a van­dal­ized cloth­ing store on Er­mou Street in cen­tral Athens yes­ter­day. A to­tal of 67 down­town shops were dam­aged dur­ing ri­ot­ing on Mon­day night, city Mayor Gior­gos Kami­nis said yes­ter­day.

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