NEWS

Anti-racism police unit heralded

Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias on Monday heralded the creation of a new unit within the Greek police force that would focus on tackling racist violence following a spike in attacks on immigrants by members and supporters of far-right groups.

The new squad will start with offices in Athens and Thessaloniki before being extended to other parts of the country, Dendias told a press conference, noting that a draft presidential decree also foresees the establishment of a telephone hotline where witnesses or victims of racist attacks can lodge complaints. ?The country does not lack a legal arsenal when it comes to racist violence,? Dendias said.

Questioned about reports of widespread support within the police force for the ultra-right Golden Dawn party, Dendias said that senior officers are not necessarily aware of their subordinates? political leanings but that ?in deviant cases we will show no leniency.?

As regards a legal suit his ministry was planning to bring against the Guardian over the British newspaper?s publication of allegations regarding the torture of detainees by Greek police officers, Dendias said the matter was being handled by the State Legal Council.

In a related development, the management of state television channel Net decided to suspend the two presenters of a morning news program, Costas Arvanitis and Marilena Katsimi, after they suggested that a medical examiner?s report vindicated the allegations of detainees who said they had been tortured by police and that Dendias would be unable to contest these claims successfully in court.

A spokesman for the Public Order Ministry countered that the medical reports ?reveal no evidence whatsoever of burns on the bodies of detainees.?