MPs warned about rise in violence

The chief of the Greek Police on Tuesday told a parliamentary committee investigating a recent wave of political violence that officers are facing a greater threat of assault, as politicians were criticized by prosecutors for being the main cause of lawlessness.

Police Chief Lefteris Economou told Parliament?s transparency and institutions committee that over the last few years, rioters had found increasingly more dangerous ways to attack officers.

He said that during the riots in June which accompanied the voting through of the midterm fiscal plan, police were the targets of Molotov cocktails containing fireworks. Attackers also shot arrows and used slingshots to aim nuts and bolts at policemen. Caustic substances were also used, the police chief said.

?The opposite side is trying to ensure that someone is killed and it is certain that if we do not create a system for internal security with cross-party support then we will not be able to respond to today?s asymmetric challenges,? said Economou.

Athens first instance prosecutor Eleni Raikou launched a probe last month after dozens were injured or suffered breathing problems due to heavy use of tear gas by police during the anti-austerity demonstrations. Officers were also criticized for attacking protesters who were not involved in rioting.

Supreme Court prosecutor Yiannis Tentes also appeared before the committee yesterday and suggested that political interference in the judicial system was undermining efforts to punish those responsible for violence. He also emphasized the need for the country?s politicians to agree on rules of engagement for the police during riots.

Deputy Supreme Court prosecutor Nikos Mavros went a step further, accusing politicians of being the ?primary cause? of creating the impression that offenders can get away with anything. ?Laws are strict but the state bypasses them, applying the statute of limitations, either through passing immunity legislation or passing laws that allow prisoners out of prison early because there is not enough space in jails,? he said.

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