Police ‘beating’ under scrutiny

A prosecutor in Thessaloniki has ordered an urgent investigation into whether undercover police officers beat a 24-year-old student after a march in the city on Friday night to mark the 33rd anniversary of a bloody student uprising against the military dictatorship. Video footage of the apparent beating of Avgoustinos Dimitriou was aired on national TV channels over the weekend and first instance prosecutor Vassilis Floridis wants a probe into the matter to be concluded by Friday. Five lecturers at Thessaloniki’s Aristotle University, who claim to have witnessed the alleged assault by a group of officers, also filed a complaint with the prosecutor’s office yesterday. Thessaloniki police have launched an internal investigation but said in a statement that the student was trying to dodge officers who tried to check his identity as he left the university. The police said that the 24-year-old Cypriot national sustained his injuries when he tripped and fell against a scooter and a large flower pot. But footage appears to show that officers hit and kicked the student when he was on the ground. Dimitriou was arrested and then taken to the hospital so his injuries could be treated. Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said the ruling conservatives would await the outcome of the investigation before drawing any conclusions. «If it is proved that policemen were responsible, penalties will be imposed,» said Antonaros. «Penalties are not imposed automatically but after an in-depth police investigation, which is being carried out at the moment.» Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras admitted that the video seemed to show behavior by officers which was «condemnable.» The student involved in the incident was one of eight people arrested on Friday night after students threw rocks at riot police outside the university grounds. The suspects have been charged with disturbing the peace, causing damage, attempted grievous bodily harm, possession of illegal weapons and resisting authority. They will be tried on November 30.

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