Greek students keep up protests amid police brutality claims

ATHENS: More than 1,000 students kept up protests on Wednesday in the Greek capital after evening clashes with security forces over bitter allegations of police violence.

The authorities reported 10 officers were hurt on Tuesday evening — one with serious head injuries — and 16 people were arrested on the sidelines of a demonstration by some 5,000 people.

Two hundred hooded protesters threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at a police station in the Nea Smyrni suburb, AFP reported.

Police responded with tear gas and water cannon, and in a statement said the badly injured officer had been dragged off his motorbike and beaten.

Those arrested would be brought to court later Wednesday on charges including attempted murder, grievous bodily harm, and arson, police said.

The protests follow months of anger in the Greek media and among campaigners over numerous high-profile cases of alleged police brutality at student and left-wing protests.

Uproar erupted after a video went viral showing an officer beating a man with a baton Sunday during a patrol to enforce a coronavirus lockdown.

His screams of “I’m in pain” have become a hashtag on social networks.

The officer accused of the beating has been suspended, police sources said, and an inquiry opened.

Police said 1,000 students were on the streets Wednesday afternoon, but an AFP reporter estimated the numbers at double that figure.

“Repression will not win” read one banner at the protest called specifically against the setting up of a university police force.

Government spokesperson Aristolelia Peloni accused left-wing opposition party Syriza of “stoking the tensions” and “irresponsibility” at an already difficult time under the pandemic.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis urged people to ensure that “the sad images of violence that we have seen in Athens this (Tuesday) evening are the last”.

“I will not allow anyone to divide us,“ he said.

Athens residents are under stay-at-home orders — with only essential trips allowed — in a bid to tame the coronavirus, which has claimed some 6,800 lives in Greece. — AFP

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