ATHENS – A former journalist now a Member of Parliament for the Radical Left SYRIZA, a party accused of condoning violence, apologized for saying no one had died in firebombing attacks, ignoring three people who died in a bank fire set by Molotov Cocktails tossed in by anarchists.
Giorgos Kyritsis was blamed for offending the victims of the attack on a branch of Marfin Bank n downtown Athens during deadly anti-austerity riots in May 2010, one of them a pregnant woman, with no one yet apprehended for the killings.
Kyritsis had defended government plans to change the country’s criminal code to provide lesser sentences for people making and having Molotov Cocktails and firebombs that are routinely tossed at riot police in frequent clashes.
He had said that, “In the 30 or more years that I worked as a journalist I do not recollect anyone being killed by a Molotov cocktail.” After being ripped by critics, he quickly came back to say that,
“My statement was wrong. The reason is that the crime committed in Marfin holds a distinct place in the collective consciousness of Greek society. The crime in Marfin had no precedent and thankfully there has not been a similar crime since,” he told news website ethos.gr.
He described the reaction to his remarks as “justified” and said he was referring to clashes between riot police and anarchists, with SYRIZA riddled with elements sympathetic to the bomb-tossers, and that he wasn’t talking about the Marfin Bank incident without explaining why not.
Kyritsis noted that the change in the draft legislation concerns the possession of petrol bombs and not their use, which will remain a felony.
As the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA moved for more lenient sentences for embezzlers and people who throw Molotov Cocktails at riot police, a lawmaker for the party drew outrage after he said no one had even been killed by the firebombs, apparently mocking or forgetting three bank workers who died in a 2010 fire.
His remarks had drawn immediate umbrage from the major opposition, poll-leading New Democracy, with elections coming this year and the Conservatives hammering away at SYRIZA, accusing the Leftists and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of condoning widespread violence.
New Democracy was reacting to Kyritsis’ defense of government plans to change the country’s criminal code that would reduce the manufacture and possession of homemade firebombs from a felony to a misdemeanor, said Kathimerini.
“The only thing Kyritsis has not tried to tell the families of the Marfin Bank victims is that their people died because of a short-circuit,” ND said in a statement. “He should be nothing but ashamed of himself.” One of the victims, Angeliki Papathanasopoulou, 32, was pregnant. The other victims were Paraskevi Zoulia,and Epaminondas Tsakalis