THESSALONIKI — A Greek court has decided that a police officer accused of fatally injuring a Roma teenager during a car chase over an allegedly unpaid gas station bill should be released on bail pending trial.
The Dec. 5 shooting of 16-year-old Kostas Frangoulis, a father of one, triggered days of protests which often turned violent, despite calls for restraint by the teenager’s family and Roma community leaders. Frangloulis died last week, after spending several days in critical condition in hospital with a gunshot wound to the head.
A panel of judges issued the decision Monday, ordering the 34-year-old officer to be released pending trial. The only bail condition set was that the officer is banned from leaving the country.
Police have said the teenager tried to ram the police motorbikes chasing him after he allegedly drove off from a gas station without paying a 20 euro ($21) bill. The officer accused of shooting him has said he fired because he feared his colleagues’ lives were in danger.
The officer had been charged with a felony count of attempted manslaughter with possible intent and a misdemeanor count of illegally firing his weapon. He had been kept under house arrest following an initial court appearance following a disagreement between the prosecutor and investigating judge on whether to remand him in pre-trial detention.
The charge is expected to be upgraded to manslaughter following the teenager’s death. That procedure will require the officer to appear in court again for additional preliminary testimony.