Probe launched into police use of tear gas

The Athens First Instance prosecutor, Eleni Raikou, on Friday launched an investigation following complaints by the head of the country?s pharmacies? union regarding the extensive use of tear gas by riot police during an anti-austerity demonstration on Wednesday.

Raikou launched the probe in response to comments Thursday by the president of the Association of Pharmacies of Attica, Konstantinos Lourantos.

?The events of yesterday were criminal,? Lourantos told Skai Television. Lourantos, who headed a makeshift first aid unit in the Syntagma Square metro station on Wednesday to help medics treat hundreds of protesters suffering injuries from clashes, as well as breathing problems from the use of the tear gas, said that his appeals to police officers in charge to desist from the use of tear gas were not met. Aid volunteers, Lourantos added, made repeated calls for donations of oxygen tanks and other medical supplies to pharmacies and hospitals around the country, as well as to individuals. ?The riot police, who take orders from above, cannot be allowed to break up an otherwise peaceful protest simply because they have been ordered to evacuate the square,? said Lourantos.

Panos Drougas, the vice president of the Union of Greek Chemists, told Skai Television on Friday that there was no way of guaranteeing the safe use of chemicals during public protests, noting that in some cases excessive uses can be fatal.