Parade held under heavy police presence

The annual military parade commemorating the start of Greece’s War of Independence against the Ottoman Turks in 1821 was held in Athens Monday under a heavy police presence designed to keep spectators away from President Karolos Papoulias, ministers and other officials.

In a bid to keep costs down, no armored units or aircraft took part in this year’s ceremony.

Tightened security was deemed necessary after protesters disrupted a military parade in October 2010. The metro station at Syntagma Square remained shut on police orders.

However, elsewhere around the country, parades and wreath-laying ceremonies were marred by protests and scuffles. In Corinth, leftists clashed with supporters of neofascist Golden Dawn as party MP Stathis Boukouras prepared to lay a wreath. Police used pepper spray to break up the brawl.

A police officer has been suspended after he symbolically threw a wreath on the ground in front of politicians attending the ceremony.

In the village of Ierissos, near the site of a controversial gold mining project in Halkidiki, northern Greece, students paraded wearing gas masks and black T-shirts with slogans against the project.

On the southeastern island of Rhodes, police arrested an unidentified woman after she attacked a municipal official with a knife. The official, Dimitris Karantzias, was not seriously injured.