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Greek Police Say Roma Camps Gangster Enclaves

roma_megara_390Following the murder of a 16-year-old gypsy boy in a Roma camp in Megara, Greek police have started a sweep into the unlawful settlements and said that the outposts are being used as hiding places for widespread operations of criminal gangs, the newspaper Kathimerini reported.
A source told the newspaper that a police officer involved in the investigation of the brutal knife attack against the Roma teenager, suggested that the Megara camp, as well as other illegal camps in Attica, are hubs of criminal activities controlled by Mafia-style gangs. The main areas of activity are said to be drug dealing and the illegal trade in scrap metal.
Investigations into the murder “are carried out with the utmost caution,” the source said, claiming that there have been numerous attacks against police officers either patrolling or conducting criminal investigations at Roma camps. “The atmosphere is explosive,” he said.
“Criminals use any means to show us that they do not want us meddling in their business and that they’re the boss,” said another police officer, who served in Aspropyrgos – an area west of Athens that is also home to a large illegal Roma settlement, and where five police officers were recently assaulted.
Meanwhile, the regional governor of the Peloponnese, Petros Tatoulis, filed a request with the regional police authority for all illegal Roma camps in the region to be dismantled. He claimed that Roma gangs of scrap collectors are responsible for wide-scale pillaging of public and private property. Roma, or gypsies as they are sometimes known, send beggars onto the streets of Greek cities, frequently with children and have been accused of widespread criminal activity.
Earlier in December, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the Greek authorities failed to integrate Roma children into the ordinary education system and discriminated against them.
The applicants were 140 Greek nationals, all of Roma origin, who complained to the court that they or their children had been enrolled at the 12th school primary school in Aspropyrgos which was attended exclusively by children from their own community and provided a lower standard of education than other schools.

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