Dendias visits Skouries in wake of arrest related to gold mine arson attack

Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias has travelled to Halkidiki, where one man has been arrested following an arson attack on the Skouries gold mine on Sunday.

“Greece is a European state of law and order,” said Dendias during a visit to the local police precinct. “We have a duty to safeguard the foreign investments taking place in the country.

“Investments are the only way we can confront the huge problem of unemployment.”

Dendias arrived in Halkidiki shortly after police announced that a local 54-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of being moral instigator of the attack.

Unconfirmed reports suggested that he was the blogger who maintained the antigoldGreece blog. The suspect was arrested late on Sunday.

It is thought that up to 40 people were involved in the raid, which led to a number of vehicles being burned.

Two guards were also tied up and doused with a flammable liquid, police said. The assailants are also alleged to have been carrying guns, which they fired into the air.

A total of 33 people were detained on Sunday, prompting residents of the nearby village of Ierissos to hold a public rally to protest what the saw as being random detentions by the police.

Sources said that police have collected evidence from the scene of the attack and are expecting the results of forensic tests. Officers have apparently gathered droplets of blood, a ski mask, cigarette butts, a torch and a surgical mask.

The Skouries mining project has been strongly opposed by some locals, environmental groups and political parties over fears of the lasting damage it could do to the local environment.

Hellenic Gold, which is 95-percent owned by Canadian Eldorado Gold, insists that the mine is legal and has all the necessary environmental permits.