Rioters burn and plunder Athens

Article published on Dec. 8, 2008
Article published on Dec. 8, 2008
The centre of Athens looks like a conflict zone, probably the worst seen in Greece since the restoration of democracy in 1974. Dozens of shops, banks, businesses and cars are being destroyed by the rioters on Athens main shopping streets and business centre.
Incidents started on Saturday night, soon after an officer who was patrolling shot dead a teenager (Alexis Grigoropoulos) in Exarchia district, an area where they often take place clashes between self-styled anarchists known as “known-unknowns” and police. The circumstances surrounding the death are still unclear. According to the officer’s version of events, his vehicle was attacked by a group of some 30 people and he fired three times with his service gun (twice in the air and one on the ground) for self-defence. His version is contradicted by several witnesses who claim there was simply a verbal exchange between a small group of youngsters and the two officers who got out of their car to pursue the youths. The two officers have been arrested and charged with murder and illegal use of gun. In Athens, rioters set up burning barricades across downtown streets, hurled rocks and Molotov cocktails, torched the capital’s massive Christmas tree in central Syntagma Square, smashed windows, burned and robbed shops and ATM machines causing millions of euros worth damage. Massive riots spread across Greek cities and towns including Thessaloniki, Patra, Ioannina and Crete in the third day of rioting. Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis has called an emergency Cabinet Meeting Monday night and the Rector of the University of Athens has resigned.

photo: Third day of violence

Thousands of protesters battled police in central Athens, smashing the windows of shops and banks with Molotov cocktails, and sending three officers to hospital, said police, who used tear gas to disperse the rioters.

By courtesy of Mariana (murplejane/flickr)