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Greek Police Shoot Dead Young Roma; Protests Erupt Near Athens

Greek police chase
Greek police on motorcycles pursued a man in what they suspected was a stolen vehicle, tragically killing him when the chase ended in a shoot-out. Credit: Facebook/Greek Police

Greek police shot and killed a 20-year-old Roma man early Saturday morning. The shooting took place following a car chase in the suburb of Perama, west of Athens. A 15-year-old was also injured, and another teenager ran from the scene.

Seven police officers have been arrested in connection with the death. The same officers were also reportedly injured during the chase and subsequent shoot-out, but the Greek Police have not provided details on the extent of their injuries at this time.

The car chase started after officers attempted to pull over the 20-year-old man, who was driving what the officers later confirmed was a stolen vehicle. The driver refused to stop and drove off, causing the police to pursue him on their motorcycles.

The chase came to a dramatic end when a bus suddenly came towards the driver, causing him to back up into the “five police motorcycles chasing him” according to a statement issued by the Greek Police.

Police used a weapon to stop the vehicle, resulting in the fatal injury of the driver and the injury of one of the passengers, who was taken to hospital and is being treated out of danger,” the statement also said.

Watch the video from the chase below:

The death of the driver has caused outrage amongst the Roma community in and outside of Athens, with protests erupting across the city.

Roma in Greece often feel targeted by discrimination

According to the Council of Europe “there are approximately 265,000 Roma living in Greece (2.47% of the population).The Council of Europe estimates that there are approximately 265,000 Roma living in Greece (2.47% of the population).”

The Roma in Greece live scattered on the whole territory of the country in some 70 settlements, mainly in the suburbs. Notable centres of Romani life in Greece are Agia Varvara, Athens, which has a very successful Romani community, and Ano Liosia, where many face great hardship. A large population of Roma also leaves in Thessaly.

Roma often state that they face discrimination and racism among their fellow Greek citizens. During the past years, far-right wing extremists have often targeted them.

This is not the first time the Roma community has faced tragedy with the Greek Police. Ten years ago, a 7-year-old girl was accidentally killed by a Greek police officer on a motorcycle, causing an uproar of grief from the Roma population.

The police motorcycle hit the girl outside a Roma settlement in the Menidi suburb of western Athens. According to eyewitnesses, the girl was together with other children to sing the Epiphany carols, when she suddenly sprang on the road.

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