NEWS

Government considers ministry switch after Parliament protest

The government is considering putting the Citizens’ Protection Ministry under the auspices of the Justice Ministry in a bid to boost both civil rights and public order, sources said on Wednesday a few hours after anti-establishment protesters entered the courtyard of Parliament.

The matter was discussed by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Justice Minister Nikos Paraskevopoulos, Interior Minister Nikos Voutsis, State Minister Alekos Flambouraris and Alternate Citizens’ Protection Minister Yiannis Panousis last night. Other topics of discussion included the tabling of a bill aimed at abolishing “Type C” maximum-security prisons, which was a key demand by protesters on Wednesday.

Members of anti-establishment groups ratcheted up their protests against Type C prisons and their demands for the release of detained members of terrorist groups Wednesday by invading the courtyard of Parliament as other activists staged sit-ins in central and local government offices. The protesters unfurled a banner demanding the release of jailed terrorist suspects and convicts, many of whom are on hunger strike, including Savvas Xeros of the disbanded November 17, who has serious health issues. They were later detained without any violence.

The stunt outside Parliament prompted fierce criticism from the opposition and SYRIZA’s junior coalition partner Independent Greeks, as well as a confused response from authorities. Government spokesman Gavriil Sakellarides referred to “a provocative and inexplicable act.” A statement released from the office of Parliament Speaker Zoe Constantopoulou said there had been “no invasion of Parliament” and underlined the right of citizens to protest.

Protesters continued a sit-in at the Athens University for a third day Wednesday as others took over the administrative headquarters of Thessaloniki’s Aristotle University, the offices of SYRIZA in the western port of Patra and the city hall of Xanthi, in northern Greece. Another sit-in at the city hall of Nea Smyrni, an Athens suburb, ended before police were called in.