Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis briefed Parliament on Friday on the conduct of the police, defending the force over accusations of a recent rise in incidents of excessive use of force.
“There has been no escalation of police violence,” the minister said.
“What matters is the scale, the rate of occurrence, the trend,” he added, saying that of 623 public protests staged in the last two months, just 25 turned violent.
Referring to events in the Athens suburb of Nea Smyrni – where several officers are under investigation for their response to a riot that broke out on the sidelines of a march in protest at an earlier incident of police brutality in the same area – Chrysochoidis said that while the events were “appalling,” “we would be doing ourselves and common sense an injustice if we said that this was a common occurrence.”
“The prime minister has apologised, and I want to apologise to any victims of police arbitrariness,” he said, referring to the first incident at New Smyrni’s main square, were a police officer was caught on camera hitting a resident repeatedly with a collapsible baton during what should have been a routine inspection for lockdown violations.
“The police only records the facts and nothing more. It does not judge, it does not evaluate, it does not lie,” he also said, responding to claims of efforts to whitewash these and other incidents.
The minister also appealed to Greece’s youth to help de-escalate the situation and called on them to help the government build a better future for Greece.