Sit-in ends, protesters vacate Athens Law School

Around 50 self-styled anarchists vacated Athens Law School on the sixth day of a sit-in protest, and a subsequent inspection by university authorities revealed extensive damage to the premises.

Equipment was destroyed, books burned and hallways scorched, prompting Athens University rector Thanos Dimopoulos to declare the faculty closed on Thursday so the damage can be repaired.

Sources told Kathimerini on Wednesday that Interior Minister Nikos Voutsis had called Greek Police headquarters and asked that no arrests be made. The previous night, a small group of self-styled anarchists had set fire to cars and garbage cans, smashed windows and spray-painted public buildings in the downtown neighborhood of the law school.

The sit-in protesters, who were demanding the closure of C-type maximum-security prisons and the release of convicted terrorist Savvas Xeros – both of which may be achieved by current draft legislation – left the school without incident after receiving assurances that no arrests would be made by police dispatched to the school.

Alternate Citizens’ Protection Minister Yiannis Panousis, an Athens University professor himself, praised Voutsis’s initiative, saying that “this is the first time that a university occupation has been resolved in an academic and democratic way.”

However, the decision did not have the support of the prosecutor’s office, which issued a statement on Wednesday in the wake of the previous night’s destruction saying that it had asked for the police to step in on Sunday. On Saturday, a church near the school had been looted and trashed, allegedly by sit-in participants.

In a related development on Wednesday, the secondary school teachers’ union (OLME) expressed its support for student sit-ins, saying that it “teaches them democracy and allows them to develop into active citizens with critical thought.”

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