Complaints about Syntagma Square arrests

Two French tourists who were among the eight people taken into custody when authorities cleared Syntagma Square of camping protesters early on Saturday told Kathimerini English Edition on Monday that they were wrongly arrested and that they had simply been waiting for the first metro train to Athens International Airport at the time.

The 36-year-old man and 20-year-old woman were taken to a precinct after police and municipal officers began an operation to clear the square of protesters, tents and banners at about 4 a.m. on Saturday. They allege that they were held in custody for about 12 hours, during which they did not have access to a translator. They were then taken to a prosecutor, where there was no translator either. Along with the other suspects, they were charged with harming the environment.

?We did not understand what we were being charged with until we read about it in the newspapers the next day,? the 20-year-old, who preferred not to be named, told Kathimerini English Edition.

Authorities had been planning for days to remove the remaining Indignant protesters and their tents from Syntagma after complaints that the camp was unhygienic and had attracted drug addicts and petty criminals. A police spokesman told Kathimerini English Edition that officers had given those present in Syntagma Square an opportunity to leave before they began arresting people, noting that there had been no violent resistance. He was not able to provide details about the French pair.

The French tourists claim they saw off a Greek friend at Syntagma metro station at around midnight and then sat in the square to wait for the first train to the airport, which leaves at 5.37 a.m., so they could catch a flight. The tourists said they moved to the side of the square but that officers hauled off the 36-year-old even though he told them he had a ticket for a flight. The 20-year-old said she protested but was arrested too.

The pair were released after appearing in court yesterday and are to reappear on Thursday.

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