Greek Unrest Spreads Solidarity Protests Across Europe Turn Violent

As Greece entered its sixth day of unrest sparked by the police shooting of a 15-year-old boy, violence spread to other parts of Europe on Thursday. Solidarity protests in cities including Rome, Madrid and Copenhagen turned into skirmishes between demonstrators and police.


The unrest that has gripped Greece for days has started to spill over into other European capitals, with arrests made in Rome, Copenhagen and Madrid on Wednesday night after solidarity demonstrations descended into violence.

The situation in Greece itself had calmed somewhat by mid-morning Thursday following pre-dawn violence which saw students clash with police. Youth threw stones and fire bombs at police in the early hours of the morning in the sixth day of protests since the fatal shooting of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos ingited anger over police brutality. The events have also stoked public anger with the government -- resentment that was already widespread following a series of financial scandals and unpopular reforms.

Demonstrators in Rome on Wednesday night.
REUTERS

Demonstrators in Rome on Wednesday night.

Much of the worst violence has been perpetrated by young anarchists, the so-called Black Bloc. But there is growing anger among the wider public about the inability of the government to control the situation and restore calm. On Wednesday a general strike across Greece halted flights and closed banks, schools and some hospital services.

Meanwhile, flourishes of violence spread to other parts of Europe. In Istanbul about a dozen Turkish left-wing protestors daubed red paint over the front of the Greek consulate, while the country's embassies in Rome and Moscow were attacked by fire bombers and stone throwers. In the Italian university town of Bologna, five police officers were reported injured after clashing with demonstrators outside the Greek consulate.

In Madrid nine people were arrested when things turned violent and another two were detained in Barcelona, after police broke up a demonstration attended by around 300 young people. A protest in the Danish capital Copenhagen also turned nasty with 32 people arrested after run-ins with the police.

In Greece a new student protest has been called for later on Thursday and school and university students and teachers have called a rally in Athens for Friday.

Many people have voiced anger at the lack of remorse shown by the police officer charged with murdering the teenager on Saturday night. On Wednesday a prosecutor sent Epaminondas Korkoneas and his partner, who is charged with being an accomplice, to jail pending their trial. Their defense lawyer Alexis Cougias said that a ballistics examination had shown that Grigoropoulos had been killed by a ricocheting bullet and not a direct shot. Under questioning Korkoneas indicated that he had acted out of self defense when a group of 30 youths in the volatile Exarchia district began throwing firebombs and other object and shouting that they "were going to kill them."

On Wednesday, Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis pledged financial aid to those who have lost property in the riots. However, it is unlikely that this will placate the conservative government's critics. In two separate opinion polls published on Wednesday, before the aid package was announced, 68 percent of Greeks said they disapproved of the government's handling of the crisis and the opposition Socialists now enjoy a five-point lead in the polls.

Karamanlis, whose party only has a one-seat majority in the Greek parliament, has rejected calls for early elections. And despite the ongoing tensions at home, the prime minister is going ahead with plans to attend the European Union summit in Brussels on Thursday.

smd -- with wire reports

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