Murder fuels fears of rising city crime

Fears about spiraling crime in the city center were exacerbated on Tuesday after a 44-year-old man was fatally stabbed while preparing to take his pregnant wife to the hospital.

Manolis Kantaris had been on the way to pick up his car from a parking garage on Triti Septemvriou Street when he was attacked by three people shortly before 5 a.m., police said.

He had been carrying a bag of baby clothes and a video camera with which he had planned to record the birth of his second child.

According to witnesses, the assailants approached Kantaris and demanded that he hand over the camera. When he resisted, they started stabbing him in the back and neck before grabbing the camera and fleeing.

Apart from the accounts of witnesses, police are examining footage taken from a surveillance camera in the area.

The man was found dead by his wife who came down to search for him after he failed to return. Despite her shock, the woman made her way to the city?s Mitera maternity clinic where she gave birth without complications.

The latest in a series of violent robberies and muggings in the center, where trade in drugs and crime are thriving, the murder was condemned by politicians. Government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis called it a ?shocking incident.? But central and local authorities appeared to pass the buck over policing.

Citizens? Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis told Parliament, ?We are determined to encourage the mayor of Athens and to cooperate with him to secure the highest possible level of safety for citizens.?

In a written statement, Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis said that ?a great deal of effort is required by police to get the situation under control? but expressed his willingness to cooperate with police.

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