Residents fight to save Athens park

Local residents appeared determined yesterday to keep up their opposition to the felling of trees in a central Athens park to make way for an underground car park which had sparked angry protests and rioting. Police had to guard municipal workers cutting down trees in Amerikis Square on Monday and residents said about 45 had been felled. But on Monday night locals struck back by replanting some 40 trees. Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis told Skai yesterday that only three trees had actually been cut down while another 40 were taken away for replanting elsewhere. Tension rose yesterday morning when riot police cleared residents from the park so that municipal workers could continue their task. Residents later staged a protest march to City Hall. Kaklamanis made it clear that the project would go ahead, as the relevant contract was lawful in all respects and the income accruing to the municipality from the operation of the parking facility would ultimately benefit local residents. He clarified that municipal authorities were in no way responsible for the intervention of riot police, since a public prosecutor had been on the scene at the time.

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