THESSALONIKA, Greece ( Associated Press) – More than 1,500 people gathered Thursday in a Roma settlement in northern Greece for the funeral of a teenager who died days after being shot in the head by a police officer who was killed by a bill. Was chasing him for not paying. at a gas station.
The death of 16-year-old Kostas Frangoulis, married and father of one child, sparked protests that at times turned violent despite calls for restraint from his family and Roma community leaders.
“Today the whole society should unite. Today we are all Roma,” said Theophilos Alexopoulos, the family’s lawyer.
Mourners surrounded the open white casket where Frangoulis lay with a white baseball cap on his head and covered up to his neck in flowers.
Some placed bills in the coffin according to Roman tradition. The teenager’s funeral music and a favorite rap song were played during the procession to the cemetery, where the service and burial took place.
“Today is a difficult day, a sad day,” said Georgios Stamatis, secretary general for social solidarity at the labor ministry, who attended the funeral. “We fired a young man… who didn’t have time to live his life and left behind a minor wife and a minor child.”
Stamatis said the government would support the family “and all these people, to break their social marginalization and the ghetto where they live.”
The Roma community has condemned the shooting in the northern city of Thessaloniki as an act of racism. Many have been injured or killed in clashes with police, who accused them of evading arrest for violations of the law.
The Roma community faces widespread discrimination and in many cases lives on the fringes of Greek society.
The 34-year-old police officer has been suspended and placed under house arrest while a court decides whether to keep him in jail until trial or grant him bail. He has been charged with attempted murder, but this charge will likely be changed to murder following Frangoulis’ death.