Police crack down on Roma camps

The murder earlier this month of a 16-year-old Roma boy in a camp in Megara, in Viotia prefecture, has prompted a large-scale police crackdown on illegal Roma settlements, Kathimerini has learned, with police suggesting that many of these operate as almost impregnable strongholds for criminal gangs.

Speaking to Kathimerini on condition of anonymity, a police officer involved in the investigation of the brutal knife attack against the Roma teenager, suggested that the Megara camp, as well as other illegal camps in Attica, are hubs of criminal activities controlled by Mafia-style gangs. The main areas of activity are said to be drug dealing and the illegal trade in scrap metal.

Investigations into the murder “are carried out with the utmost caution,” the source said, claiming that there have been numerous attacks against police officers either patrolling or conducting criminal investigations at Roma camps. “The atmosphere is explosive,” he said.

“Criminals use any means to show us that they do not want us meddling in their business and that they’re the boss,” said another police officer, who served in Aspropyrgos – an area west of Athens that is also home to a large illegal Roma settlement, and where five police officers were recently assaulted.

In a related development, the regional governor of the Peloponnese, Petros Tatoulis, filed a request with the regional police authority on Saturday for all illegal Roma camps in the region to be dismantled. He claimed that Roma gangs of scrap collectors are responsible for widescale pillaging of public and private property.

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