An ‘isolated cry of anguish’

Dismissing as an «isolated incident» Saturday’s embarrassing rampage through central Athens and the attack on the prime minister’s residence by an armed drug addict, the government said yesterday there was no question of the public order minister being dismissed. «It was an isolated incident, not something that happens every day,» government spokesman Christos Protopappas said. «We cannot draw general conclusions from such an incident on matters of security in our country… Greece has the lowest crime rate in Europe, and every year there are constant, positive developments in the field of crime-fighting.» Furious at having been dropped from a drug rehabilitation program after being repeatedly caught using heroin while still taking methadone – which was supposed to help wean him off heroin – long-term addict Dimitris Aivatzidis, 38, raided the drug rehabilitation center in Exarchia, firing off a shotgun. He then drove away in a rented car after shooting at two policemen, disarmed a third officer, and burning a car and stopped at Costas Simitis’s Kolonaki residence on Anagnostopoulou Street, where he shot at the entrance and was lightly wounded by fire from the PM’s police guards. He was eventually caught near his flat in Koukaki. Yesterday, Aivatzidis’s lawyer said his client had not intended to hurt anyone. «It was a cry of anguish, with social implications,» he said of the shooting spree. Opposition New Democracy reacted to the incident with calls for Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis to be sacked. But Protopappas yesterday accused the main opposition party of «irresponsible fear-mongering» and trying to smear Greece’s international reputation. «The minister should be judged by his… particularly important work in fighting crime,» the spokesman said.