Second day of riots in Athens

Protesters clashed with police in Athens and Thessaloniki for the second day in a row yesterday, as hundreds of youths continued a sit-in on the grounds of Athens University and dozens more took over the central administrative offices of Thessaloniki’s Aristotle University. Meanwhile, as academics called for a review of a law banning police from entering university grounds, a dispute broke out between Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis and Alexis Tsipras, the leader of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA). In a statement, SYRIZA accused Chrysochoidis of engaging in a «vendetta against anarchists» and called on the government to «intervene to stop the unchecked police repression being enforced by its minister.» Chrysochoidis reacted to the SYRIZA statement with «genuine surprise,» claiming to have spoken to Tsipras several times by telephone during the course of the rioting and noting «a gulf between the content of our conversations and SYRIZA’s announcement.» Chrysochoidis mobilized some 10,000 police officers over the weekend, ordering a zero-tolerance policy to avert rioting of the scale that followed the police killing of 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos last December. According to police, more than 850 people were detained and 147 arrested in protests across the country on Saturday and Sunday. Of these, the vast majority were released without charges being filed. Of those arrested in Athens, 31 are to face a prosecutor charged in connection with rioting outside the premises of Athens University and an attack on the institution’s rector Christos Kittas, who was admitted to the hospital after rioters stormed his office. He was said to be in stable condition yesterday. A member of the police’s Z force motorcycle unit who knocked down a 55-year-old female protestor in Athens is being sought, sources said. Of those arrested in Thessaloniki, 13 faced a prosecutor yesterday for their alleged part in riots. There were more problems in the northern city yesterday when around 50 students took over the administrative offices of the city’s Aristotle University. According to sources, some of the students verbally attacked Anastassios Manthos, the university’s rector who has suffered physical attacks on campus in the past. Violence prompts new calls for review of university ban on police There were calls yesterday from politicians and academics for the government to begin a review of the university asylum law, which restricts the presence of police on campus. A day after its rector was attacked and placed in intensive care, the University of Athens asked in writing for the police to protect its premises. Also, moments before rioters used the National Technical University of Athens’s grounds to launch assaults on police, its rector, Constantinos Moutzouris, suggested the law might need to be reviewed. «As much as I am in favor of the asylum, I am troubled by the intensity of the incidents and how we can confront violence,» he told Kathimerini. Meanwhile, New Democracy offered its support to PASOK in getting a debate on the law under way.

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