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Greek PM Apologizes for Police Violence; Bodycams on Officers

Police violence
Riot police employ flash grenades at the protests in Nea Smyrni. Credit: Screenshot from live image

Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis apologized on Friday to victims of police violence and announced that bodycams will be installed on officers.

Speaking in Parliament during a debate on police violence, he referred to the incident last Sunday in Nea Smyrni, Athens, when a police officer was filmed hitting a citizen repeatedly with a collapsible baton.

Mitsotakis described the officer’s behavior as “unacceptable” and confirmed reports that he has been suspended pending an investigation into the attack.

“I unequivocally condemn it, regardless of what preceded or what followed. A police officer must exercise restraint and follow the rules even when insulted and harassed,” he told lawmakers.

He accepted that “There are be behaviors that are inappropriate among the very good work done by the police,” the PM said.

Footage of the beating went viral on social media, sparking public outrage. The Greek police have ordered an internal investigation over the incident, while the officer involved has been suspended.

Mitsotakis also announced that all police officers in the future will wear bodycams and will undergo psychological testing.

There will also be a bill in Parliament to upgrade police studies. The ombudsman will also have an assistant to deal with issues and instances of police violence.

Police violence a “heinous phenomenon”

Μain opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance leader Alexis Tsipras accused Mitsotakis “of choosing tension and division” as his main strategy.

Tsipras expressed his support for all the citizens that have been suffered “police arbitrariness” and that these were “heinous phenomena” that “cannot be tolerated by any democratic citizen.”

He underlined that it is the responsibility of the state and “objectively, the responsibility of the government” to guarantee the social peace for both citizens and police.

“Today, after all the things that have happened in the last few days, I am not here only to ask questions. In the context of parliamentary scrutiny, I not only question but also accuse you,” said Tsipras.

“I accuse you because, at the most crucial moment for Greek society, when the citizens are under pressure, weary and despairing due to the pandemic, you attempted to shirk your responsibilities by choosing tension and the division as your main strategy,” the main opposition leader said.

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