Greece: 3rd night of riots over police shooting of Roma teen
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Clashes broke out for a third night Thursday outside Roma settlements near Athens over the police shooting of a teenage Roma boy in northern Greece, after the government issued a public appeal for calm.
Authorities ordered road closures lasting several hours northwest of the capital after youths from the settlements set fire to tires and trash bins. Earlier, police carried out multiple raids at settlements in the area and made seven arrests for drug possession, while detaining another four people for questioning, authorities said.
The violence broke out following the shooting Monday in Greece’s second-largest city, Thessaloniki. The 16-year-old was shot in the head and critically injured during a police chase after he allegedly pulled out of a gas station without paying a 20 euro ($21) bill.
The 34-year-old police officer who allegedly fired the shot has been suspended and is to appear in court Friday for questioning on charges of a felony count of manslaughter with possible intent, and a misdemeanor count of illegally firing his weapon.
Police have said the youth had tried to ram one of the police motorbikes involved in the chase with his pickup truck, and the police officer said during a preliminary court appearance that he fired because he believed his colleagues’ lives were in danger.
The injured boy’s father said he did not believe that account.
“What I want is for the truth to come out,” Pavlos Frangoulis told reporters in Thessaloniki. “They said he tried to attack the police. I don’t believe that is true.”
The government called for calm Thursday, responding to rioting in Athens and Thessaloniki over the previous two days. Overnight, protesters in the industrial western Athens neighborhood of Aspropyrgos had allegedly torched a local tire business and a bus and set up burning barricades in the streets.
Government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou called the shooting a “tragic incident” that was being fully investigated.
“I would like to ask for calm and prudence from all, but also to state clearly that there will not be the slightest tolerance of aggressive, illegal, violent behavior toward law enforcement officers,” Oikonomou said.
More protests are expected Friday outside the Thessaloniki courthouse where the arrested police office is due to appear.
___ Kantouris reported from Thessaloniki, Greece
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