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Greece - demonstrations

Violence flares on anniversary of Athens youth death

Article published on the 2009-12-06 Latest update 2009-12-06 14:48 TU

A protester throws a stone at riot police in central Athens, 6 December 2009(Photo: John Kolesidis/Reuters)

A protester throws a stone at riot police in central Athens, 6 December 2009
(Photo: John Kolesidis/Reuters)

Thousands of people marched in Athens Sunday to mark the one-year anniversary of the killing of a teenager by police. Some protests turned violent, with police clashing with demonstrators in Athens and the northern city of Thessaloniki.

Students have occupied dozens of universities and schools around the country, and some tried to occupy the central office of Athens University. Rector Christos Kittas was rushed to hospital with light injuries.

About 40 people were detained in Athens, and a number of businesses had windows smashed.

A Starbucks coffee shop was set on fire in Thessaloniki as demonstrators faced off with police.

Over 6,000 police were on duty in Athens, and another 3,000 in Thessaloniki.

Police were hoping to contain violence, and avoid a repeat of last year’s riots which followed the death of 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos, who was shot and killed by a police officer who claimed he shot into the air while under attack from youths.

At a family memorial service early Sunday, his mother called for the demonstrations to remain peaceful.

Police detained more than 130 people Saturday night in Athens, ahead of the demonstrations, after cars were set on fire in the Exarchia district, where Grigoropoulos was killed.

The officer accused of the death has been charged with homicide and is due to go on trial 20 January 2010 in Amfissa, some 185 kilometres northwest of Athens.

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