Homeless man killed over bed

The beating to death of a 53-year-old homeless man in Glyfada, southern Athens, early yesterday in an argument about sleeping space has revived a debate about Attica’s inadequate facilities for thousands of destitute people. Two Polish nationals faced a prosecutor yesterday in connection with the fatal beating of the man who died upon arrival at the Asclepeio Hospital in Voula. The two Poles, aged 29 and 26, are accused of beating the older man after finding him sleeping in an abandoned snack bar they had been using for shelter. Officers found the two suspects at a nearby disused factory, also used by homeless people for shelter. One of the two suspects allegedly admitted to beating the 53-year-old. Staff at homeless hostels said fights over sleeping space were becoming common as the number of homeless people rises. There are believed to be at least 11,000 homeless people in the broader Athens area. «Some 1,700 people are sleeping rough in the city of Athens alone,» said Eleftherios Skiados, the director of a municipal hostel. «The number of homeless people is rising dramatically,» he said. The municipal hostel has bed space for 200 people and a Health Ministry hostel for 100 more. Nearly half (46 percent) of homeless people blame unemployment for their situation, according to research by the non-governmental organization Klimaka. More than a third (35.4 percent) blame inadequate family support, while 25 percent say they have been in jail. Many homeless people reportedly have psychological problems, alcoholism or drug addictions, although there were no statistics to demonstrate the extent of these problems. A large number are refugees, hostel staff said.