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A Greek Police Officer Has Appeared in Court in Connection with the Shooting of a Teenager
On Tuesday, a police officer appeared before a court in northern Greece in connection with the shooting death of a teenager who was reportedly responsible for not paying a petrol station bill. Outside the courthouse, demonstrators were gathering.
The teenager, a member of the Roma minority, has been admitted to a hospital in Thessaloniki and is currently in critical condition. The police officer, who is 34 years old and is accused of shooting him in the head, has been placed under arrest and suspended from duty.
He was arraigned in court on two charges on Tuesday morning: a felony allegation of attempted manslaughter with suspected intent and a misdemeanor count of improperly firing his weapon. Both charges carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
Before he goes to appear in front of an investigating magistrate, he made a request for more time to prepare his defense, as is customary in the Greek court system, and he was granted that request. On Friday, he is scheduled to make another appearance in court.
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Disputes broke out between the police and the demonstrators who had assembled in front of the courthouse. The protesters were holding up a banner that read, “It wasn’t the gas, it wasn’t the money, the officers shot because he was Roma,” which prompted the police to intervene.
Before daybreak on Monday, a gunshot took place just outside of Thessaloniki, which is the second-largest city in Greece. After an employee at a gas station reported that the teenager’s outstanding charge of 20 euros ($21) had not been paid, officers on a motorcycle patrol gave chase to the teenager’s pickup truck.
The court appearance takes place on the same day as the anniversary of the fatal shooting of a teenager named Alexis Grigoropoulos by police officers in Athens in 2008. This shooting was the spark that ignited Greece’s worst riots in decades. Protest marches held in Grigoropoulos’s memory frequently devolve into violent behavior.
About 1,500 people took part in a protest march that was organized by left-wing and anarchist organizations on Monday night in the central area of Thessaloniki in response to the most recent gunshot that took place. The police replied with tear gas and stun grenades when some of the protesters destroyed stores and tossed Molotov bombs at them.
After the conclusion of the march, the police apprehended six individuals. A peaceful rally with several hundred people took place on Monday in the central area of Athens in response to the murder of the teenager as well as an earlier event in which a Roma man was also shot by police while being pursued by them.
Banners bearing the inscription “They shot them because they were Roma” were carried by the demonstrators in the capital of Greece. After the demonstration was over, there were several skirmishes with the police. Human rights advocates and members of Greece’s Roma population routinely accuse Greek authorities of harboring a discriminatory attitude against their community.
In the past few years, a number of Roma men have been involved in confrontations with the police while allegedly attempting to evade arrest for violations of the law. Some of these men have been shot and killed, while others have been injured. The young man who was hurt was not given a name, but his relatives were able to determine that he was a member of the Roma community.