NEWS

Police gathers dirt on Rouvikonas anarchist group

YIANNIS SOULIOTIS

TAGS: Crime, Justice

After months of investigation, the Hellenic Police (ELAS) is poised to present prosecutors with a file on the activities of Rouvikonas (Rubicon in Greek), the anarchist group that has recently stepped up its attacks on political and business targets, in a bid to investigate whether its members can face tougher penalties.

According to sources, investigators are already in contact with the head of the Athens Court of First Instance, Ilias Zagoraios, about the timeline of the group’s attacks.

Citizens’ Protection Minister Nikos Toskas had indicated the intention of authorities to crack down harder on the group following a paint attack on the Israeli Embassy in Athens on December 25. At the time, Toskas had underlined the importance of coordination with the Justice Ministry to ensure Rouvikonas members face heavier charges for their actions.

The ELAS file refers to a total of 87 criminal acts attributed to Rouvikonas, ranging from the occupation of the offices of leftist SYRIZA in March 2015 to the Israeli Embassy attack.Another incident in the file that caused much controversy was a raid on a doctor’s office at the capital’s Evangelismos Hospital last October, when members of Rouvikonas threatened the medic to stop taking bribes from patients to perform surgery.

Of the 87 activities, 28 were carried out in 2015, 16 in 2016 and 43 last year.

The police’s response, however, scaled back over the years: There were 11 case files drawn over 2015 and 2016, and just one last year.

Details of those case files are included in ELAS’s report. The first instance of charges being brought against the group was in June 2015 when alleged members vandalized the John S. Latsis Benefit Foundation in Kifissia, the affluent northern Athens suburb.

Most recently, charges were brought against 18 people in October following the occupation of the Spanish Embassy in Athens.

In a rare case of conviction, the 18 were found guilty of disturbing the peace and refusing to have their fingerprints taken before being released.

According to investigators, the ranks of Rouvikonas are growing. Though initially the group numbered 10 to 15 members, by the end of last year, ELAS had detained a total of 119 suspected members.

Although the government has expressed its intention to crack down harder on the group, following criticism by the political opposition for being too soft on it, police sources indicate that this might be difficult in practice.

Sources told Kathimerini that it is not possible to substantiate charges of forming a criminal organization, for instance, as most of the group’s actions – barging into state buildings and vandalism – equate to misdemeanors, not felonies.

They added, however, that a proliferation of cases against Rouvikonas members could lead to their being remanded in custody.

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