NEWS

Ticket inspector shot as drive to stop fare dodgers begins

A ticket inspector was in serious condition in an Athens hospital on Monday night after being shot in the stomach by a bus passenger in Keratsini, near Piraeus.

The incident occurred at about 4.30 p.m. yesterday as the Athens Urban Transport Organization (OASA) inspector, who was not named, was waiting at a bus stop to check the tickets of passengers. The assailant pulled out a handgun with which he shot his victim twice before running off.

The shooting came as a new team of 100 OASA inspectors began work on the public transport system following a week?s training. Authorities have stepped up checks in a bid to tackle fare dodging, which is estimated to cost some 50 million euros a year in Athens.

The more extensive checks are also a bid to deter the ?I won?t pay? movement, which encouraged commuters not to buy tickets following the rise in the price of the regular fare from 1 to 1.40 euros earlier this year.

The same citizens? movement has also been responsible for protests at road tollgates, and traffic police in Corinth claimed that a group of protesters stormed their headquarters on Sunday night and burned hundreds of tickets that had been issued to motorists who had refused to pay at tollbooths on the Corinth-Patra highway.

However, members of the protest group said that five representatives from the 150 demonstrators who had gathered outside the building were invited to meet with officers. The campaigners said that the tickets were torn up by the policemen, who also returned driving licenses to offending motorists.

When contacted by Kathimerini, the Corinth traffic police insisted that some 1,000 tickets were taken by force and that some licenses were returned to demonstrators by officers who wanted to defuse the situation.