The Greek police were accused of brutality when officers in Athens were caught on video throwing to the ground an apparently peaceful resident and beating him with their batons.
The incident happened on Sunday in the main square of the Athens suburb of Nea Smyrni just before 3 p.m.
In an announcement, police say that a motorcycle patrol went to the suburb of Nea Smyrni’s main square to investigate “multiple reports” of violations of the current lockdown measures.
It claims that they were set upon by a group of 30 people who injured two police officers. Police reinforcements detained 11 from among the group, police say.
But videos uploaded on several websites show a different picture: a peaceful citizen arguing with police and suddenly being thrown to the ground and attacked with batons.
Eye witness Dora Alexandri said she experienced the “most disgusting thing I have seen up close.”
“A riot squad was beating up a child not even 18 years old because he did not have an identity card…We all gathered, calling for them to stop but they did not listen.
“They continued to beat him mercilessly with kicks and their batons. I have no words to express what I felt today …Disgust, shame and anger at those who are supposed to protect us,” the eyewitness wrote on Facebook.
Greek police announce investigation
A rally protesting police violence took place later Sunday at the main Nea Smyrni Square, with over 500 reported as taking part. Police forces that showed up at around 7 p.m. used chemicals to disperse the crowd.
The head of the Athens Prosecutor’s Office ordered a preliminary investigation into reports of police misconduct on Monday.
The inquiry has been assigned to the head of Criminal Prosecution, Nikos Ornerakis, who will investigate these claims.
Police say that an administrative inquiry will be held in response to the video uploads.
Opposition accuses government of authoritarianism
“The country has a government that has completely lost control of the pandemic and all it knows how to do is to beat people,” main opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance’s leader Alexis Tsipras said in a post on Facebook late on Sunday.
“The unprovoked attack by police on families and young children in Nea Smyrni Square this afternoon is the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
“Beatings at noon and authoritarianism and propaganda at night,” said the main opposition leader, describing Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis as “the orchestrator of the largest authoritarianism and deception campaign the country has seen in decades.”
The socialist Movement for Change denounced the “shocking” scenes of police violence.
“It didn’t just happen, it is a choice by the government and, personally, by (Prime Minister Kyriakos) Mitsotakis. The more the people turn their backs on them, the more they will resort to repression,” said party spokesman Pavlos Christidis.