ATHENS – A report to Parliament in the aftermath of a battlezone-like confrontation between police and demonstrators complaining of brutality during attempts to enforce COVID-19 measures said there were 623 protests in violation of a public gatherings ban, only 25 of which turned violent.
Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis briefed lawmakers about complaints of police allegedly using excessive force, one suspended after being shown in a video beating a man with an iron baton.
“There has been no escalation of police violence,” the minister said, despite reports to the contrary without explaining why, if that’s the case, that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis plans reforms including a requirement that police officers wear body cameras to record incidents.
“What matters is the scale, the rate of occurrence, the trend,” he added, as the major rival SYRIZA said police are nearly out of control after the Leftists, during a 4 ½-year reign, let violence in some areas spiral.
Chrysochoidis, referring to the all-out brawl in Nea Smyrni that saw one officer pulled off the back of a motorcycle and severely beaten, said that while what the public saw was “appalling,” that, “We would be doing ourselves and common sense an injustice if we said that this was a common occurrence.”
“The prime minister has apologized, and I want to apologize to any victims of police arbitrariness,” he said, not calling it violence or brutality.
“The police only record the facts and nothing more. It does not judge, it does not evaluate, it does not lie,” he said, responding to claims of efforts to cover up what happened and other incidents, said Kathimerini.