Police arrests 12 after march turns violent in central Athens

Twelve people were arrested and 31 briefly detained late Tuesday after a protest march in support of anarchist and convicted robber Nikos Romanos, in central Athens, erupted into violence, police said.

Several stores, three cars and one bus where damaged during clashes between protesters and the police around the central Exarchia district. The rally was held in response to a refusal by the authorities to grant the 21-year-old prisoner a furlough to study at a technical college (TEI).

On Wednesday, an Athens court also rejected his request, although government officials have suggested that an amendment will be put forward to resolve the issue. Romanos, currently hospitalized in an Athens clinic, has been on hunger strike since November 10.

In a letter from hospital that was released Wednesday, Romanos said that he would continue his hunger strike “until victory or death.”

Romanos and five others were given jail sentences of 15 to 16 years in October for their part in an armed robbery in Velvento, northern Greece, in February 2013. All were cleared of being part of the urban guerrilla group Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire.

Romanos was a close friend of Alexandros Grigoropoulos, the 15-year-old shot dead by a policeman in Athens, on December 6, 2008. He was with Grigoropoulos when he was murdered, an event that sparked days of rioting in Athens.