Uprising at immigrant center ‘long in making,’ police say

A riot that broke out at a holding center for immigrants in Amygdaleza, northern Athens, on Saturday night, leading to the escape of 10 detainees and the injury of 10 police officers as well as an unspecified number of migrants, appears to have been a protest at a decision to extend the maximum stay at the facility from 12 to 18 months.

Although the uprising was reportedly sparked by an interruption of the electricity supply to the camp, which caused the air-conditioning system to stop working, sources told Kathimerini that the detainees’ anger had been building following the recent decision by authorities to extend the maximum detention period. Migrants have also complained about the conditions at the camp but the Greek Police’s spokesman, Christos Parthenis, on Monday denied claims of overcrowding, saying that 1,600 migrants were being held while the capacity is for 2,000.

Of the 10 detainees who escaped, two Pakistani nationals were caught on Monday. Meanwhile 41 others faced a prosecutor on a string of charges due to their alleged involvement in the riot. Detainees set fire to mattresses and pelted police officers with stones and other objects.

A police source said an uprising had been long in the making following recent hunger strikes and smaller-scale protests.