Police raid two squats, fueling political tensions

Police raided two squats in central Athens on Wednesday, including the notorious Villa Amalia, which had been reoccupied following a police sweep last month, as the government clashed with leftist opposition SYRIZA over the intervention.

A total of 100 suspected members of anti-establishment groups remained in detention at Athens Police Headquarters last night following the two raids. The first sweep on Villa Amalia prompted a brief sit-in at the Athens offices of Democratic Left, the coalition’s junior partner.

The sit-in, which comprised a few dozen people expressing solidarity with the 92 Villa Amalia squatters, was broken up without reports of violence. A few hours later, police raided another squat a few blocks from Villa Amalia, on the corner of Patission and Skaramanga streets, and detained another eight people, after confiscating dozens of empty bottles, gas masks, helmets and chunks of marble resembling those hurled by hooded youths at police during protest rallies from the premises.

Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias said the government would “not back down on the issue of squats.” Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou went further, accusing SYRIZA of “supporting acts of violence and lawlessness” and challenging it to clarify its position on the squatters. SYRIZA responded by accusing the government of trying to deflect public attention from a burgeoning scandal regarding the so-called Lagarde list of Greeks with deposits at a Swiss bank.