Citizen Protection Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis said the downtown district of Exarchia, where police has been conducting a series of raids to clear squats and arrest drug traffickers, will be “handed back to its residents” by the end of March.
Talking at a late night television news program on Skai TV, the minister said the problems in the neighborhood were the illegal squats and the criminality caused by foreign nationals involved mainly in drug trade and thefts.
Chrysochoidis said that after 4-5 months of police operations, criminality has been reduced in the area.
He also said an ultimatum issued by the Citizens’ Protection Ministry last November that called on squatters to evacuate any state- or privately owned buildings in downtown Athens has paid off, as many of the squatters are either negotiating with the owners on the rent, or evacuated the buildings.
Asked about a deadly shooting in central Athens on Thursday when one man was killed and another seriously injured in what police believe is a turf war between gangs, Chrysohoidis said the perpetrators are known to the authorities and will soon be arrested.
“It is my and the government’s pledge to the citizens…of Greece to end this type of crime disappear in the country,” he said.
Asked about allegations of police violence, the minister said that “anyone who cannot control his temper does not belong in the force,” adding that the Greek Ombudsman is investigating any incidents.