Landfill staff call for help

Attica’s main landfill yesterday remained closed for several hours as staff at the site protested a series of attacks by members of a Roma community living in a makeshift camp next to the dump that culminated in the beating of a garbage truck driver last Saturday. The leader of the landfill workers’ union, Giorgos Hardas, condemned the weekend attack as «attempted murder» and referred to the Roma residents living in the camp next to the site at Fyli, northwest of Athens, as a «garbage mafia.» Some 200 Roma and other economic migrants swarm into the landfill site regularly, even while garbage trucks are emptying their loads, searching for salvageable waste, Hardas said. «They attack with knives anyone who tries to stop them,» Hardas said. According to workers, police officers in patrol cars stationed outside the sprawling dump site do nothing to help. «Something has to be done – the workers’ safety is at risk,» Hardas said. The truck driver attacked on Saturday reportedly angered the Roma by refusing to load onto his truck and transport into their camp some items they had salvaged from the trash. The driver was in hospital yesterday but in a stable condition, according to doctors. The items removed from the site are generally sold by the camp residents, which itself poses a public health risk, workers say. In a related development yesterday, two residents of the town of Lefkimi, southern Corfu, who were involved in violent protests over the creation of a landfill in their area on Saturday, had their trial postponed until tomorrow. A local priest is charged with inciting others to vandalism and a student is charged with playing a leading role in the vandalism of the local police station. Meanwhile locals and environmentalists have lodged two appeals with the Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court. «We are doing all we can to avert the creation of a landfill next to our homes,» Vassilis Karavazakis of the local environmental association told Kathimerini.