Dec 6, 2014 8:57 PM

Protests turn violent in 2 Greek cities

The Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece (AP) A march by thousands of people through central Athens to mark the anniversary of the fatal police shooting of an unarmed teenager quickly turned violent Saturday, as marchers damaged storefronts and bus stations and set fire to clothes looted from a shop.

Clashes continued late into the night in the neighborhood of Exarchia, a haven for extreme leftists and anarchists, with youths ambushing police forces with firebombs and rocks thrown from balconies.

Police said they detained 211 people.

Clashes also broke out between police and demonstrators marching in the northern city of Thessaloniki. Police fired tear gas and stun grenades after a crowd beat up two plainclothes policemen.

The marches were commemorating the Dec. 6, 2008, police killing of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos in the capital, which led to two weeks of the most violent rioting Greece had seen in decades. Grigoropoulos and friends were in an argument with two police officers when one officer went to his patrol car, retrieved his gun and shot the youth.

Grigoropoulos' killer, police officer Epaminondas Korkoneas, is serving a life sentence.

On Saturday, about 5,000 people marched in Athens, passing the Greek Parliament and heading toward the spot where Grigoropoulos was killed, police said. At one point, people broke into a Zara clothes shop, took racks of clothes into the street and burned them.

The clashes were soon confined to Exarchia neighborhood. Police cordoned off the neighborhood's central square, firing tear gas and pepper spray.

The 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 and is now on a hunger strike, demanding prison leave to attend lectures after he passed university entrance exams.

Romanos, currently hospitalized under police guard, has been on the hunger strike since last month, and doctors have said his health is failing. He was jailed with three young men following a February 2013 bank robbery in which they took a hostage as they tried to escape. He was sentenced in October to 15 years and 11 months for the robbery and faces two more trials as an alleged member of an armed anarchist group.

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


Costas Kantouris contributed to this report from Thessaloniki.


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