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Athens Riot: Suspect in Attack on Police Officer Arrested

Riot in Athens
The injured policeman following the riot in Athens. Video frame.

Police have arrested a suspect in the brutal attack of a police officer during the riot in the Athens suburb of Nea Smyrni on Tuesday evening.

According to police sources, the 22-year-old suspect, whose name has not been released,  was among the masked protesters who attacked a police officer on his motorcycle, seriously injuring him.

The same sources say that he may face charges of attempted murder.

The officer remains hospitalized, but doctors say that there is no danger to his life.

He is being treated at the 401 Military Hospital, and reportedly he has said that his helmet kept him from suffering a more serious head injury.

Sixteen total arrests as a result of Athens riot

Altogether police made 16 arrests during an evening of the senseless violence at Nea Smyrni.

The suspects will face a number of charges, including being an accessory to attempted murder, inflicting bodily harm, arson and possession of explosives.

The suspects under arrest will be brought before an Athens public prosecutor later on Wednesday.

The masked protesters, who also hurled Molotov cocktails, rocks and other objects at police, broke away from a peaceful march of thousands of people against police violence.

The demonstration was prompted by a video that showed a man being beaten on Sunday by an officer in the area.

The officer was suspended from duty on Wednesday.

At the same time, according to police sources, an internal inquiry into the incident, focusing particularly on the other police officers that looked on during the citizen’s beating without intervening, is continuing.

PM appeals for end of violence in Athens

In a televised address late on Tuesday, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called for an end to the violence.

“The sad images everyone saw tonight in Athens must be the last such ones,” he said.

“I particularly address myself to our young people, who are meant to create, not to destroy. Blind fury leads nowhere,” Mitsotakis declared.

He said that some political forces, which he did not name, are trying to sow hate and division “to cover up their own dead end, as they have done in the past.”

“I will allow no one to divide us. We will not let anyone turn us back,” he underscored.

Earlier on Tuesday, the PM had directly accused main opposition SYRIZA of undermining the measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus by calling for protests, amid heightened tensions since Sunday’s incident.

“SYRIZA’s official call for participation in citizen protest rallies in the midst of the pandemic is an act of great irresponsibility,” Mitsotakis said.

SYRIZA: Violence cannot be met with violence

Opposition parties responded to the violence by condemning the injury to the policeman and emphasizing the peaceful nature of the demonstration.

SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance condemned the incidents that left blazing fires on streets and broken windshields of parked cars.

“We unequivocally condemn those who chose to spoil a peaceful protest of thousands of residents, students, workers and employers of Nea Smirni.

“We unequivocally condemn the attack on a man of the Greek police. Violence cannot be met with violence. Violence only exonerates violence.”

But the main opposition party also commented that the PM was in a state of “panic due to the incompetence of his government.”

It added that the only thing that is bringing people out into the streets is his government’s policies.

The Movement for Change (KINAL) also condemned the injury of the policeman and called on all political powers to isolate fans of violence, anywhere they come from.

It also castigated the government and the main opposition for “resorting to divisive politics harming public health, the economy, society and democratic normalcy.”

Greece and its society “need a national plan to put an end to the pandemic and work consistently and unity for the future,” it added.

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