Police pass riot blame around

Law enforcement officers were blaming each other yesterday for the poor policing of Saturday’s demonstration ahead of an upcoming annual review of senior police positions next month. Three people were injured on Saturday as hundreds of extreme leftists and self-styled anarchists clashed with far-right Chryssi Avgi members in central Athens. The clashes brought central parts of the city to a standstill as shoppers ran for cover in a situation that appeared to have gone beyond police control. Some 200 police were called in to defuse the situation but no arrests were made, despite 100 people being initially detained. Senior police sources gave conflicting accounts of what happened in what is widely perceived as being a failed police operation. «Police had been given the wrong information. The far-right groups and anarchists gathered at 10 a.m. instead of 2 p.m. as expected. This resulted in having only 20 police at the ready when the violence broke out,» said Costas Karadimas, a member of the riot squad. Others sources said the police had been well-prepared. «There was absolutely no element of surprise involved. We followed the steps of the demonstrators. We made available 100 police so the plan would be completed successfully,» another police source said. The government is scheduled to review senior police positions in March as part of an annual review that could lead to changes at the top of the force.