NEWS

Thousands turn out for anti-austerity protests

Some 25,000 demonstrators converged in Thessaloniki on Saturday night to protest the government?s ongoing austerity drive.

More than seven separate demonstrations were held in different parts of the northern port but a record number of police officers – over 7,000 – prevented any of the groups from approaching the heavily guarded venue where Prime Minister George Papandreou was giving his annual speech on the state of the economy.

The most violent protests were those involving taxi drivers who are furious at government plans to liberalize their sector.

A group of around 3,000 protesters attempted to storm a police barrier and were pushed back by officers firing tear gas. Television coverage showed some of the cabbies hacking pieces of stone from sidewalks and hurling them at officers.

University students, protesting an overhaul of state higher education, were also out in force, as were members of the so-called Indignant anti-austerity movement and suspected anarchists.

A total of 94 people were detained during the unrest, according to police, but only eight were to face a prosecutor, one on criminal charges.