OPINION

Editorial

Dozens of people were treated for slight injuries while one woman suffered burns. A train carriage went up in flames. Two motorcycles were completely destroyed. Twenty cars were seriously damaged. Greece was horrified at what took place on Saturday afternoon on the ISAP urban railway at Faliron train station. Hundreds of unsuspecting passengers were attacked with gasoline bombs and stones hurled by the fans of Olympiakos soccer team. This was not a fight between hot-tempered hooligans before or after a match. The train was simply carrying AEK fans on their way to Piraeus. It is not hard to imagine what would have happened had the Molotov cocktails been thrown inside a railway tunnel. The vandals acted like criminals – with a set purpose and with the requisite tools for a bloody assault. It is in fact scandalous that the police failed to arrest any of the approximately 50 dangerous criminals. The police cannot claim ignorance of the identity of the offenders. These are well known in football circles as members of the various fan clubs. The state of impunity which surrounds these figures is indeed mysterious. The attack was nothing new. Based on ISAP data, during the past three years since July 1998 there have been 67 attacks on ISAP trains – Olympiakos fans have caused damage on 33 occasions, Panathinaikos fans on 19 and AEK fans on 15. The annual cost of the damage comes to between 70 and 100 million drachmas. An end has to be put to the vandals’ destructive activity. Do we have to experience a massacre of innocent people caused by these anti-social elements before the government takes measures against these well-organized troublemakers? Transport Minister Christos Verelis promised that the State will guard the ISAP train stations like those of the Metro; it remains to be seen whether these pledges will be kept. Ten months ago, the ISAP administration asked the Greek police to guard the newly renovated train stations of Piraeus and Aghios Eleftherios at least, but its request was not met. The government cannot ignore such obligations. Thousands of people take the ISAP trains and the Metro every day. They cannot be at the mercy of a few dozen hooligans who are protected by the powerful circles and obscure interests they serve.