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Photojournalist seriously injured by riot police in Athens

A photograph of Marios Lolos in Syntagma Square on Thursday night.

A photojournalist covering an anti-austerity protest in Syntagma on Thursday night was due to undergo surgery on Friday after being allegedly beaten by riot officers during clashes between rioters and police in a rally sparked by the suicide on Wednesday morning of a pensioner in the square in front of Parliament.

Marios Lolos, the president of the Greek Photojournalists' Union, sustained serious head injuries after being repeatedly beaten with batons, according to witnesses.

The photojournalist was due on Friday to undergo surgery at Hygeia Hospital for life-threatening cranial injuries.

In a statement issued on Friday, the Greek Photojournalists' Union decried «the barbaric and unprovoked attack,» saying that Lolos and other photojournalists have been «targeted» by riot police.

«Systematic and repeated attacks against people of the press when they are doing their jobs, which violate even the most fundamental of human rights, cannot be seen as arbitrary; even the most naive can surmise that they are meant to gag the press,» the union's statement said.

Lolos is the third reporter in two days to have been injured in clashes at Syntagma Square.

On Thursday, a reporter with NET state television made allegations that he had been rough-handled by riot officers during the first protest following the 77-year-old pensioner's suicide on Wednesday, while private channel Antenna also said that one of its journalists was hit with a baton on the back of the neck by riot police on the same day.

In October last year, Tatiana Bolari, a photojournalist working for Agence France-Presse, was beaten repeatedly by a riot officer while covering a large anti-austerity protest, with images of the attack making their way around the world.

Last June, journalist Manolis Kypraios permanently lost his hearing when a policeman threw a stun grenade at him during a riot in Syntagma, prompting reactions from human rights groups.

The chief of the Greek police said on Thursday that an investigation would be conducted into allegations of excessive use of force by riot officers.

Press unions on Friday held a rally at the Citizens' Protection Ministry on Katechaki Avenue to protest the latest attack.

ekathimerini.com , Friday April 6, 2012 (12:25)  
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