Greek authorities call for calm after unrest over police shooting
Protests have been raging in different Greek cities since a 16-year-old Roma boy was shot in the head by police.
Greece’s government has called for calm after the police shooting of a Roma boy sparked protests in a neighbourhood of Athens and outside the country’s second-largest city, Thessaloniki.
Demonstrators gathered overnight in the industrial western Athens neighbourhood of Aspropyrgos, allegedly torching a local tyre business and a bus and setting up burning barricades in the streets.
Authorities issued a warning at midnight on Wednesday that Aspropyrgos residents should remain indoors and close their windows and doors.
Protesters from nearby Roma settlements also set up roadblocks in the area of Chalkidona, about 40km (25 miles) west of Thessaloniki, and one other area.
“I would like to ask for calm and prudence from all, but also to state clearly that there will not be the slightest tolerance of aggressive, illegal, violent behaviour toward law enforcement officers,” government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou said on Thursday.
Demonstrations broke out in Athens, Thessaloniki and other areas on Monday when the police shot a Roma boy after he allegedly filled his vehicle at a Thessaloniki petrol station and drove off without paying.
The teen’s identity has not been officially released, but he was identified by relatives as a member of the Roma community.
The 16-year-old was hit in the head and is in critical condition at a Thessaloniki hospital.
The police officer who allegedly shot the boy has been arrested and suspended from duty.
On Friday, December 9, the 34-year-old officer is to appear in court on charges of a felony count of manslaughter with possible intent, and a misdemeanour count of illegally firing his weapon.
Oikonomou said the case, which he described as a “tragic incident”, was being fully investigated.
He said the incident “does not in any way excuse acts of violence and lawlessness being carried out by those who want to protest”.
In recent years, several Roma men have been fatally shot or injured during confrontations with police while allegedly seeking to evade arrest for breaches of the law.
Members of the Roma community in Greece and human rights activists frequently accuse Greek authorities of discriminating against Roma.