NEWS

Police chief steps down

Citizens' Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis yesterday sacked police chief Vassilis Tsiatouras, just a few hours after the «unacceptable» arrests of several members of a left-wing party and journalists during a police sweep in the central district of Exarchia on Wednesday night. «This behavior by police, who raided a venue where a book was being launched and made arrests, is unacceptable,» Chrysochoidis said after delivering a public apology for the detention of several members of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA). The minister said he had asked for Tsiatouras's resignation and promptly received it, noting that a new police chief will be appointed in the next few days. «This sheriff or Rambo-style logic is down to overzealousness and is not a good yardstick for the force,» said Chrysochoidis, noting that such behavior would no longer be tolerated. Members of the force's Delta rapid-reaction force raided the cafe where the book launch was being held late on Wednesday after a group of youths attacked a police patrol car in the area with stones and other objects. The youngsters, who managed to elude arrest, had been protesting the beefed-up presence of police in the district, a notorious hangout for anarchists and popular nightspot, since the new PASOK government came to power. It was still unclear late yesterday why police entered the cafe after failing to catch the young vandals. Some police sources claimed that certain participants at the book launch had emerged from the venue and had taunted officers, provoking their reaction. Chrysochoidis, who is reportedly planning a reshuffle of the top echelons of the police force, is said to have pressed officers to carry out «immediate arrests» of troublemakers from now on. In another of his public statements yesterday, the minister said the force was determined to crack down on violent demonstrators without resorting to heavy-handed tactics. «The government has received a mandate to restore law and order and will not compromise the need to curb illegal behavior while respecting basic human rights,» the minister said.

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