Premier to meet hunger striker’s parents

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is on Monday to meet the parents of Nikos Romanos, the convicted bank robber and anarchist who has been on hunger strike for more than three weeks in protest at the authorities’ refusal to grant him leave from prison to attend Athens Technical College.

A bill allowing prison inmates the right to study by distance learning was submitted in Parliament by Justice Minister Haralambos Athanasiou over the weekend and prompted vehement debate in the House. The bill had been due for submission Tuesday but was brought forward in view of the increasingly fragile health of the hunger striker.

Addressing Parliament on Saturday, Athanasiou appealed to opposition MPs not to capitalize on the Romanos affair, saying “no one has the right to play with the life of a young person.”

SYRIZA MP Zoe Constantopoulou called on the judiciary to revoke a ruling that had denied Romanos the right to study furloughs, saying the youth’s death would leave “an open wound in judicial history.”

On Saturday thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in Athens and other major cities to mark the sixth anniversary of the death of Alexandros Grigoropoulos, a friend of Romanos’s who was shot dead by a policeman in central Athens at the age of 15. The rallies drew large crowds, and there were reports of violence, as thousands turned out to express solidarity with Romanos.