A Thessaloniki prosecutor met on Friday with the lawyers of four people arrested by police following a protest against a gold mining project in Skouries, near Halkidiki, and with members of the Hellas Gold Company in a bid to diffuse an intensifying dispute over the venture. Representatives of residents’ groups refused to attend the talks.
Meanwhile four of the six residents of the village of Ierissos detained by police on Thursday following a protest against the mining project remained in detention at the Thessaloniki police headquarters. A search on the homes of the four residents turned up rifles and flares and fireworks. The weapons are to be sent for forensic tests to determine whether they were used in an arson attack last month on the premises and vehicles of the Canadian-owned Hellas Gold mining company in Skouries.
Late on Thursday relatives of the detainees staged a protest outside the police headquarters in Thessaloniki.
The unrest on Thursday prompted an exchange of barbs between the government and the main leftist opposition SYRIZA party in Parliament later in the day with the latter referring to excessive police violence. SYRIZA spokesman Panos Skourletis emphasized on Friday that SYRIZA opposes the Hellas Gold project and will stop it if it comes to power, noting that the investment represents a «slow death» for local residents.
The Skouries project has fueled furious protests by locals and activists who say the mine will cause environmental damage. Other locals who back the project due to the jobs it would bring claim to have been threatened by activists.