Police union files suit over Keratea

The country?s police workers? union has sued the Greek Police over ?unacceptable working conditions? that hundreds of riot squad officers are having to endure in Keratea, southeastern Attica, where residents are violently protesting the government?s plans to build a landfill, and has demanded the withdrawal of police from the area.

?The problem in Keratea is not one that can be solved by policing,? Christos Fotopoulos told Skai Television?s Proti Grammi program on Wednesday. ?It demands a political solution.?

Police have been working long hours in high-risk conditions since December, Fotopoulos said.

The union has complained that officers have been working as many as 16 hours a day and that their health was at risk as well as their safety.

In a statement, the union accused the government of using the police as a target for disenchanted citizens to vent their anger upon. ?It is unacceptable for our colleagues to be subjected to violent attacks while on duty, to be taunted and humiliated because the state has failed to safeguard the public interest for so many years,? the statement said.

Socratis Mangas, one riot police officer stationed at Keratea, told Kathimerini that his job had become exhausting and demoralizing. ?In 20 years, I?ve never seen anything like this,? he said, noting that he and his colleagues suffer ?one attack after the other? and are sometimes pelted with ?hundreds of Molotov cocktails? in one shift. Mangas said that riot police unit chiefs were doing everything possible to ?stop our job from turning into a vendetta with the people of Keratea.?

?We didn?t ask to be here and we?ve got nothing against these people,? Mangas said. He added, however, that attacks by locals were constant and that emerging unscathed from a shift was a matter of luck. ?You don?t know whether you will return home safe or end up in hospital with third-degree burns.?

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