Police thieves get off light

Three men accused of stealing equipment from riot police during clashes with officers in central Athens in May 2005 were yesterday issued with far more lenient sentences than had been anticipated, with one being acquitted. A prosecutor had recommended that Giorgos Kalaitzidis, 27, Panayiotis Aspiotis, 28, and Petros Karasarinis, 41, all be found guilty of forming a criminal gang, causing explosions and the illegal possession of firearms. But an Athens court yesterday cleared Karasarinis and gave jail sentences to Kalaitzidis and Aspiotis, of 21 months and 8 months respectively, after finding them guilty of possessing firearms. Aspiotis has already served his term. Kalaitzidis and Aspiotis were cleared of the other charges. The prosecutor claimed Kalaitzidis had planned the firebomb attack on the riot police and the subsequent theft of shields, helmets, tear gas and other equipment.

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