Greece: Funeral held for Roma teen shot during police chase

Dec 14, 2022, 11:52 AM | Updated: Dec 15, 2022, 5:57 am

The coffin of a 16-year-old is carried during a funeral procession in northern city of Thessaloniki...

The coffin of a 16-year-old is carried during a funeral procession in northern city of Thessaloniki, Greece, on Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022. About 1,500 mourners gathered Thursday in a Roma settlement in northern Greece for the funeral of Kostas Frangoulis who died days after being shot in the head by police during a car chase over an unpaid gas station bill. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)

(AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)

THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) — More than 1,500 mourners gathered in a Roma settlement in northern Greece on Thursday for the funeral of a teenager who died days after being shot in the head by a police officer during a chase over an unpaid gas station bill.

The shooting of 16-year-old Kostas Frangoulis, who was married and had a young child, triggered days of protests which often turned violent, despite calls for restraint by the teenager’s family and Roma community leaders.

“Today all of society must be united. Today we are all Roma,” said Theofilos Alexopoulos, the family’s lawyer.

Mourners crowded round the open white coffin in which Frangoulis lay, a white baseball cap on his head and covered to the neck with flowers. Some placed banknotes in the coffin, in keeping with Roma tradition. The crowd played traditional mournful music and a rap song that was one of the teenager’s favorites as they formed a convoy that followed the hearse to the cemetery for the funeral service and burial.

“Today is a difficult day, a sad day,” said Giorgos Stamatis, the Labor Ministry’s Secretary General for Social Solidarity and Fighting Poverty, who attended the funeral. “We bid farewell to a young person … who didn’t have time to live his life and who leaves behind an underage wife and an underage child.”

Stamatis said the government would support the family “and all these people, breaking their social exclusion and the ghettos they live in.”

The Roma community has denounced the shooting in the northern city of Thessaloniki as racially motivated. Several Roma men have been injured or fatally shot in recent years during confrontations with police while allegedly seeking to evade arrest for breaches of the law.

The case has shone a spotlight on the Roma community, which faces widespread discrimination and often lives on the margins of society in Greece.

“Social inclusion with destitute people who live — not live, survive — in inappropriate conditions in camps, is not possible,” said Vassilis Pantsios, president of the Confederation of Greek Roma. “Social inclusion for us is for us to be integrated in society as a whole, with targeted policies” for a vulnerable population, he said, adding that the Roma community suffered from unemployment of above 70%-80%.

Police have said the youth attempted to ram the police motorbikes chasing him with his pickup truck. The officer accused of firing the shot has said he fired because he feared the lives of his colleagues were in danger, but that he had been aiming at the pickup truck’s tires and not at the driver.

The 34-year-old police officer was suspended and is under house arrest pending a court decision on whether to remand him in custody until his trial or release him on bail. Members of the Roma community have made clear they expect him to be put on remand. A decision is expected in the coming days.

Frangoulis spent more than a week hospitalized in critical condition after the Dec. 5 shooting, before dying of his injuries on Tuesday. Motorbike police had given chase after he allegedly filled his pickup truck with gas at a Thessaloniki station and drove off without paying the 20-euro ($21) bill.

The officer was initially charged with a felony count of attempted manslaughter with possible intent and a misdemeanor count of illegally firing his weapon. The felony charge is likely to be changed to manslaughter with possible intent following Frangoulis’ death.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Image: Scottie Scheffler celebrates after a birdie on the 10th hole during the second round of the ...

Associated Press

No. 1 golfer Scottie Scheffler: From the course to jail and back after Friday arrest

Top-ranked golfer Scottie Scheffler was arrested after police say he dragged an officer while trying to get around a fatal accident Friday.

18 hours ago

Photo: Seattle Times publisher and CEO Frank Blethen announced he will step down at the end of next...

Associated Press

Seattle Times CEO to step down after 4 decades in charge of family-owned paper

Seattle Times publisher and CEO Frank Blethen announced he will step down at the end of next year after four decades of leading the paper.

2 days ago

Image: Andy Jassy, Amazon president and CEO, attends an event on Aug. 15, 2022, in Culver City, Cal...

Associated Press

Comments from Amazon CEO Andy Jassy about unions violated federal law, NLRB judge rules

A federal judge ruled Amazon CEO Andy Jassy violated labor law by making certain anti-union comments during media interviews two years ago.

15 days ago

Image: Former President Donald Trump appears at Manhattan criminal court before his trial in New Yo...

Associated Press

Judge raises threat of jail as he holds Trump in contempt, fines him at trial

Former President Donald Trump was held in contempt of court at his trial Tuesday and fined $9,000 for repeatedly violating a gag order.

18 days ago

Photo: The seal of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is seen before an FCC meeting to vot...

David Hamilton, The Associated Press

Net neutrality restored as FCC votes to regulate internet providers

The FCC on Thursday voted to restore "net neutrality" rules that prevent broadband internet providers from favoring some sites over others.

23 days ago

southwest airlines...

David Koenig, The Associated Press

Southwest will limit hiring and drop 4 airports, including Bellingham, after loss

Southwest Airlines will limit hiring and stop flying to four airports as it copes with weak financial results and delays in getting new planes from Boeing.

23 days ago

Greece: Funeral held for Roma teen shot during police chase