NEWS

Words fly over undercover cop

Denying Communist party (KKE) claims of «repressive» police intervention in demonstrations, Prime Minister Costas Simitis admitted in Parliament yesterday that plainclothes officers take part in marches to prevent trouble, while accusing KKE of boosting opposition New Democracy (ND). The premier had a heated exchange with KKE Secretary-General Aleka Papariga following a KKE question about the discovery of an armed, plainclothes policeman in a May Day march in Athens by the Communist-sponsored PAME organization. Officer Christos Yiannakoulis was spotted by marchers, who proceeded to beat him up and remove his gun, police identity card, mobile phone and wallet – all of which were handed over to the officer in charge of security arrangements after the march. Papariga accused the government of «employing overt and covert repressive mechanisms following pressure from the USA and NATO,» and organizing incidents. Simitis conceded that undercover officers attended demonstrations «as the police are obliged… to maintain order» at marches. «If a demonstration, for example of the Greek Communist party’s labor unions, is held and during this demonstration extreme rightists appear and start throwing oranges or other objects and there are riots, then it will be the police’s fault,» he said. Papariga hailed this as an admission of «what public order ministers have not admitted in 17 previous cases,» adding that the government «would greatly like a far-right movement.» The PM countered his party never did anything to encourage the far right. «The only statement by a leftist politician to boost the right was when [KKE honorary Chairman Harilaos] Florakis said ND was 100-percent certain to win the [next] elections.»