‘Accidental’ police killings scrutinized

An Athens policeman was charged yesterday with the murder of an Albanian immigrant he shot dead in a coffee shop on Wednesday night, while left-wing parties poured scorn on the official explanation that the officer’s gun had gone off by accident. Friends and relatives of the victim, 20-year-old Gedian Selniku, gathered inside the court complex yesterday to protest at the killing – the second similar incident in less than a month. Officer Ioannis Rizopoulos claimed Selniku pulled a knife on him when, along with another three policemen, he tried to arrest the Albanian in a coffee shop on Lefkosias Street, off Amerikis Square. According to Rizopoulos’s account – adopted by the police – his gun went off accidentally as he tried to handcuff the suspect. Selniku, whom Rizopoulos suspected of having stabbed a couple of Albanians a fortnight ago, died instantly with a bullet in his head. On October 24, a policeman fatally shot 21-year-old Gypsy Marinos Christopoulos – also with a single bullet in the head – who drove through a checkpoint in the Zephyri Gypsy area of western Athens. Officer Giorgios Tylianakis attributed the shooting to his gun going off accidentally. He has been charged with murder but was released on bail, prompting riots. Yesterday, Synaspismos Left Coalition called for better police training, in democratic procedures as well as operational matters.

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