Ten law enforcement officers sustained injuries in Athens last night as a protest against police brutality turned violent, police said on Wednesday, reporting arrests of 16 demonstrators, Sputnik reports.
Protests in the Athens suburb of Nea Smyrni have been ongoing for several days now after a video emerged of police beating a local on Sunday for no apparent reason. The original demonstration was a response to a case of police violence on Sunday, when police were caught on film kicking and beating, with both fists and batons, a man. The incident apparently started during a stop in relation to the country’s coronavirus restrictions.
Prosecutors and the government have called for an investigation. The government has also criticised the police in the case. There has also been an outpouring of anger on social media.
On Tuesday, police deployed tear gas and water cannons after a crowd attacked them with Molotov cocktails, rods and batons. Three of the 10 injured officers are currently receiving treatment in a hospital. Another 11 people were detained in the unrest.
As for those arrested, they were charged with conspiracy for attempted murder, infliction of bodily harm, violence against officials, breach of public peace, arson resulting in danger to a person, manufacturing and storage of explosives, illicit trafficking in weapons, ammunition and explosive materials, as well as violations of coronavirus restrictions.
Officials said the violence was waged mostly by a group of hooligans, including football fans and masked rioters, who began throwing firecrackers, petrol bombs and rocks at police officers and parked cars. Others set fire to trees and garbage containers.
Broadcast images also showed rioters attacking police officers with metal rods. Police responded with tear gas and water cannon. At one point, the scene devolved into street fights. Calm was not restored until early on Wednesday. Speaking on state television, a police spokesperson said one of the police officers was badly injured, but was no longer in danger of dying.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was joined by opposition party members in condemning the violence.
“This blind violence doesn’t lead anywhere,” said Mitsotakis, also speaking to state television.