Protests in Greece on police shooting anniversary

AP News
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Posted: Dec 06, 2014 10:31 AM
Protests in Greece on police shooting anniversary

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Thousands of protesters marched through the streets of Athens on Saturday to mark the sixth anniversary of the fatal police shooting of an unarmed teenager in the Greek capital that led to widespread rioting, while clashes have broken out between demonstrators and police in the northern city of Thessaloniki.

Alexandros Grigoropoulos, 15, had been out with friends in a central Athens neighborhood when he was shot on Dec. 6, 2008 following a verbal altercation with police. His death led to two weeks of the most violent rioting Greece had seen in decades.

This year's anniversary marches come at a time when nearly nightly violent protests are being held by supporters of one of Grigoropoulos' friends, jailed anarchist and convicted bank robber Nikos Romanos, 21. He was present when Grigoropoulos was killed, is on a hunger strike, demanding prison leave to attend lectures after he passed university entrance exams.

Romanos, currently hospitalised under police guard, has been on the hunger strike since last month and doctors have said his health is failing. He was jailed with another three young men following a February 2013 bank robbery in which they took a hostage as they tried to escape. Police released doctored mugshots of the four at the time to remove signs of severe facial bruising caused during the arrest, leading to an outcry at the time.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras will meet with Romanos' parents on Monday morning, following a request made through their lawyer on Saturday, the government said.

Protesters during Saturday's demonstration chanted slogans in support of Romanos as well as in memory of Grigoropoulos. Several thousand people, many wearing motorcycle helmets and gas masks, marched through central Athens in a demonstration that ended peacefully. More protests were planned for later in the evening.

In Thessaloniki, groups of youths broke off from a march of about 6,000 people, throwing Molotov cocktails and scuffling with police who responded with tear gas and stun grenades.