NEWS

Two arrested for brutal downtown murder

Two Afghan migrants were arrested on Thursday in connection to the attack earlier this month on 44-year-old Manolis Kantaris, who was murdered in central Athens as he was walking toward his car so he could take his pregnant wife to the maternity ward.

Police said that they arrested two of the three suspects alleged to have conducted the predawn attack. The Afghans are aged 20 and 27. The older man had recently served a brief jail sentence for dealing in hashish. He was released on April 5.

Two CCTV cameras at the scene of the crime, on Tritis Septemvriou Street, gave police some initial leads but it seems they were able to trace the suspects after they allegedly sold the video camera they had stolen from Kantaris in Monastiraki for 120 euros. The two men, who were not named, were arrested after police raided an abandoned building on Menandrou Street in the city center. A third man, thought to be a Pakistani, is being sought.

Kantaris?s murder sparked protests by residents, which were hijacked by right-wing extremists who attacked several immigrants. One migrant was killed in as-yet-unconfirmed circumstances. The fallout from the 44-year-old?s stabbing immediately prompted calls for greater policing in central Athens and a crackdown on illegal immigration.

The Citizens? Protection Ministry announced on Thursday the creation of two migrant reception centers in Attica (Elliniko and Amygdaleza) and three holding centers (Elliniko, Petrou Ralli Street and Aspropyrgos). Another seven holding centers are being built in other parts of the country, the ministry said.

Officials in Athens fear that problems connected to illegal immigration, such as drug dealing, prostitution and other crimes, are jeopardizing the city?s hopes of attracting more tourists following a couple of fallow years for those involved in the industry.

In a bid to attract visitors, the City of Athens said on Thursday that it is creating the Athens City Pass, which will give tourists access to all public transport and sites at a preferential rate. Two new information points will be created in the city center and the municipality will seek to expand its range of ?Breathtaking Athens? souvenirs.

There are also plans to create the Athens Convention Bureau to attract more conferences to the Greek capital, which Mayor Giorgos Kaminis said is seeking to promote itself as a city break destination.

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