About 500 policemen who have spent the last couple of months protecting the planned site for a landfill in Keratea, southeast of Athens, are to leave the area and return to normal duty, sources told Kathimerini.
The extra police have been in Keratea since early December, when construction machinery was moved to a site less than 5 kilometers from the village, where the government has planned to construct a waste management center to help with Attica?s garbage problem.
However, the policemen have spent most of the time in clashes with locals who fiercely oppose the construction of the landfill near the Ovriokastro archaeological site. It is believed that police chiefs became concerned about officers? safety following particularly violent clashes on February 9. Patrol cars and the local police precinct have repeatedly come under attack.
Now, the Citizens? Protection Ministry appears to want to recall these officers to their normal duties because the construction of the landfill has yet to begin and there are greater demands for manpower in Athens, especially on Wednesday when there will be a major protest in the city center to mark the 24-hour general strike.
?We have devoted up to 500 policemen to Keratea but the building work has not started yet,? a ministry source told Kathimerini. ?This has turned into a police problem when in reality it is nothing to do with the police. When the legal loose ends are tied up and the work begins, perhaps there will be a point to having police there.?
It appears that the Citizens? Protection Ministry is upset that the Interior and Labor ministries, which are responsible for the landfill project, have failed to take any responsibility for the matter and have allowed the weight to fall on the police?s shoulders.