Hellenic Police (ELAS) spokesman Theodros Chronopoulos on Wednesday defended the controversial arrest of two men and their father during a raid on an anarchist squat in the downtown Athens district of Koukaki earlier in the day, as the incident has come under scrutiny amid claims that officers forced their way into the family’s home without a warrant.
In a statement, Chronopoulos said that the two young men were members of a group squatting in the adjacent building at 45 Matrozou Street and had attacked the officers during the raid with stones and other projectiles as they carried out orders to evacuate the squat.
The officers, he said, entered the neighboring building in order to gain access to the squat via the rooftop, not knowing that it was the home of the two young men. Their father reportedly denied the officers entry after demanding a warrant and used physical force against the officers when they entered the premises.
The ELAS spokesman said that the metal staircase leading to the roof and over to the neighboring squat had been booby-trapped with nails to prevent passage. “It was a death trap,” he said, adding that police also found a radio that could be used to intercept the police signal and instructions, written in English on a piece of paper, of what to do in the event of a police raid.
The family, which also includes the mother who was at the scene of the incident, claims that the officers abused them verbally and physically.
“We have absolute respect for the mother of the two young men who were arrested. She’s a mother. The same goes for the father, who tried to defend his children… But the facts and the police operation are exactly as I describe them,” said Chronopoulos.
Responding to the family’s claims, jurist and academic Nikos Alivizatos, who heads a committee established by Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis recently to monitor police behavior, sent a letter to the government official on Wednesday demanding an inquiry into the incident.
The letter, in which Alivizatos expresses “sadness” at an apparent “increase in incidents of unjustified police violence,” was also forwarded to the Ombudsman.
The Matrozou Street raid was part of a wider operation to clear three squats in Koukaki as part of a government crackdown on anarchist activities.