Arsonist in racially-motivated attack in Athens claims he’s part of a citizens’ patrol

A 34-year-old man charged with setting fire to a store in central Athens last week has told police that he is part of a citizens’ patrol operating in downtown Kypseli and Aghios Panteleimonas, Kathimerini understands.

The suspect, who is accused of attacking Quantro, an immigrant-owned bar in Aghios Panteleimonas, reportedly told police that about 30 Kypseli residents set up a committee last September aimed at “policing” their neighborhoods, which have large migrant populations.

“We split into groups of five and we carry out patrols between 7 p.m. and 4 a.m.,” the suspect who has only been identified by his initials, N.P., reportedly told police. A second man is being held in connection with the arson attack. The pair are to appear before a prosecutor on May 30.

In his testimony to police, the 34-year-old ruled out financial reasons as a motive for the attack, adding that the arson was designed to serve “the common good.”

Some sources said that two MPs of ultra-right Golden Dawn were planning to visit the detainee before his deposition to police, though there were no reports of the visit.

Meanwhile, four people were arrested and dozens detained in the western port of Patra after police stepped in late on Sunday to prevent clashes between supporters of Golden Dawn and self-styled anarchists protesting a rally attended by the party’s parliamentary spokesman, Christos Pappas.