NEWS

Ministry billed for 1991 riot

The Public Order Ministry must compensate the owners of businesses burnt down during central Athens riots 11 years ago, as the police failed to take effective action to prevent the conflagration, an Athens court has ruled in a decision made public yesterday. Four people died trapped in a lift on January 10, 1991, during the fire at the K. Maroussis building, on the corner of Panepistimiou and Themistocleous streets. It is still unclear whether the blaze was started by a petrol bomb thrown by anarchists rioting during a student demonstration or by a police tear gas canister. But the administrative court awarded the businessmen affected a total of 108,000 euros for their burnt property, reasoning that police monitoring the protest did a poor job by reacting «passively» and failing to maintain order and protect private property. The demonstration, at a time of heightened student unrest, was in protest at the early 1991 killing of a teacher during an attack by right-wingers on a Patras school that had been occupied by its pupils.