A video of Greek police officers beating a man on Sunday in an Athens square went viral on social media, sparking public outrage and angry exchanges between the government and opposition parties.
Main opposition party leader Alexis Tsipras, of Syriza, called for the resignation of Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis and the head of the police.
“How much longer will you allow this crescendo of police violence and arbitrariness under the pretext of observing the safety protocols that you and your government officials are constantly violating?” he asked in a question addressed to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitstotakis.
He urged him to end what he called the heavy-handed tactics of armed police concerning the observance of social distancing by the public.
The Prime Minister’s office stated on Tuesday that the Greek leader would address Tsipras’ remarks in a Parliamentary session on Friday.
Greek “police arbitrariness”
Movement for Change leader Fofi Gennimata also slammed the government as “divisive and provocative with its authoritarianism.”
In a statement, she accused the government for tolerating police arbitrariness while at the same time she denounced those who “seek unrest.”
“At a time when the country is going through dramatic times, the government is divisive and provocative with its authoritarianism and favors those who seek unrest,” Gennimata said.
“No excuse for police violence”
Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis pledged that any offenses will be dealt with by criminal prosecution and disciplinary action, saying there “is no excuse for police violence.”
At the same time, government spokesperson Aristotelia Peloni said the images of the police seen during the incidents at Nea Smyrni Square were “disturbing for everyone” and the affair is under investigation.
She underlined that “pointless violence cannot be justified and internal investigative processes have been initiated with the Ombudsman.”
She rejected the main opposition SYRIZA’s accusations that the government was fostering a “police state” and accused the party of exploiting the psychological fatigue in society with this narrative to create a new “indignados” movement.
The head of the Athens Prosecutor’s Office ordered a preliminary investigation into reports of the police misconduct on Monday.
Police say that an administrative inquiry will be held in response to the incident captured on video.
Shocking video of police beating
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.
Eye witness Dora Alexandri said she experienced the “most disgusting thing I have seen up close.”