Residents and shop owners in parts of central Athens have told Kathimerini that an increasing number of derelict buildings are being occupied by activists and refugees and that appeals to the police and local authorities to intervene have failed to produce a solution.
More than 15 buildings have been occupied in the city center, Exarchia and surrounding areas, Kathimerini understands. In all cases, police are unable to intervene as they must first receive a complaint from the owners of the properties and, in several cases, it is unclear who they are.
Residents claim to have repeatedly alerted municipal authorities and the police and to have contacted a local prosecutor, but without any success.
The lack of any response by the police to the growing number of squats in the center of the capital triggered a row between Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis and Citizens’ Protection Minister Nikos Toskas shortly before Christmas, according to sources.
City Hall representatives accuse the police of failing to cooperate with municipal authorities when the former lodged a legal suit over the occupation by activists of the building that formerly housed the General Hospital on Patission.
Other buildings currently occupied by squatters include one near Vathi Square that was a school until two years ago and a nearby neoclassical building that was also once used as a school.