NEWS

Minister blames police for failure to crack down on city violence

YIANNIS SOULIOTIS

TAGS: Crime, Politics

Citizens’ Protection Minister Nikos Toskas on Thursday responded to criticism that he is not doing enough to curb a recent spate of anarchist-related violence by suggesting that the Hellenic Police (ELAS) is to blame.

Toskas was visiting ELAS’s headquarters in Athens for the launch of a new, more intensive policing program for the capital’s city center when he demanded more efficiency from an assembly of officers, particularly in response to a recent spike in vandalism and attacks on businesses and public offices related to anarchist groups.

His speech also came after a hand grenade attack on an Athens police station earlier this week and after a mod of some 30 to 40 people smashed shop windows on the Ermou high street on Wednesday.

“I am not happy with your performance and especially in regards with the handling of the most recent incidents,” Toskas told the police officers. “Mistakes are made by those who work. Repeated mistakes, however, and indifference are things that can be investigated.”

Sources told Kathimerini that Toskas’s comments were also related to the absence of a police presence in several high-profile attacks, notably against the Israeli Embassy in December and against the Athens headquarters of Swiss drugs firm Novartis over the weekend.

In both cases, ELAS had said that the facilities were not being policed at the time of the attacks because these took place during the change of shift.

With regards to the new policing program, sources said that Toskas had to call a meeting with ELAS’s leadership after discovering that instead of the 200 officers that had been pledged to carry out the scheme, only 45 were actually available for increased patrols.

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