Sunday, January 29, 2023

Greek policeman appears in court accused of shooting teen

THESSALONIKI, Greece ( Associated Press) — A police officer appeared in court in the country’s north Tuesday over the shooting of a teen who allegedly fled a gas station without paying, as protesters gathered outside the court had accumulated.

The 16-year-old, a member of the Roma minority, was in critical condition in a Thessaloniki hospital. The 34-year-old officer who was allegedly shot in the head has been suspended from duty and taken into custody. He pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of attempted murder and one count of unlawful discharge of his weapon.

The policeman asked for more time to prepare his defense before appearing before an investigating magistrate, which he was granted, a common occurrence in the Greek judicial system. He will be produced in the court again on Friday.

Clashes broke out outside the court between police officers and protesters, who held signs that read “It wasn’t petrol, it wasn’t money, the policemen shot him because he was a gypsy”.

The shooting happened before dawn on Monday outside the country’s second largest city, Thessaloniki. Motorcycle patrol officers chased the man’s open van after a gas station attendant reported non-payment of 20 euros ($21).

The court appearance coincides with the anniversary of the 2008 shooting in which police killed teenager Alexis Grigoropoulos in Athens, sparking Greece’s worst riots in decades. Protest marches in memory of Grigoropoulos often turn violent.

About 1,500 people took part in a protest march organized by anarchist and left-wing groups in the center of Thessaloniki on Monday night because of the latest shooting. Some smashed shop windows and threw firebombs at police, who responded with flash grenades and tear gas.

Six people were arrested after the march.

Several hundred people took part in a peaceful demonstration on Monday against the shooting of a teenager in central Athens and the shooting of another Roma man during a police chase. Protesters in the Greek capital carried a banner that read, “They were shot because they were Gypsies.” There were brief clashes with the police after the protest ended.

Members of the Roma community in Greece and human rights activists often accuse the Greek authorities of discriminating against Roma. In recent years, several Roma men have been shot or killed in clashes with police while allegedly trying to avoid arrest for crimes.

The name of the injured youth was not made public, but relatives identified him as a member of the Roma minority.

Nation World News Desk
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