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Politics

Greece Must Pay 312,000 Euros Over Squatter-Occupied Building

ATHENS — The former City Plaza hotel in Athens' center that the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA let be occupied by squatters will cost taxpayers 312,000 euros ($377,053.56) in compensation to the landlord.

That was under an order from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) which said the landlord was deprived of the income when SYRIZA wouldn't move to remove the squatters, said the business newspaper Naftemporiki.

Anarchists and "no borders" activists occupied the hotel in 2016 after a disorderly bankruptcy abruptly ended its operation, the rooms filled with refugee and migrant asylum seekers, mostly from the Middle East.

It was even advertised on social media as open to occupation by squatters, with one calling the occupation ."a self-organized structure for hosting refugees and migrants" who were supposed to be in detention camps and centers.

The property's owner had leased the building to the bankrupt business owners, and repeatedly filed complaints with police and lawsuits to have the property evacuated but the squatters stayed until SYRIZA was ousted in July 7, 2019 snap elections by New Democracy, which ordered squatters removed from other premises.

Government spokesman Stelios Petsas accused the now main opposition SYRIZA of exhibiting an irresponsible attitude while in government for failing to end the building's illegal occupation.

"The European Court of Human Rights has condemned Greece for the occupation. The bill is 312,500 euros. Will this be paid by SYRIZA for its irresponsible behavior? Or will this once again be passed off to the taxpayers?" Petsas asked,  in a statement regarding the ruling.

"The occupation, for three whole years, of the City Plaza Hotel is a tragicomic instance that reveals the irresponsibility and inadequacy of the previous government," he said.

He said the squat ended ended "because clearly the 'solidarity squatters' knew the new government would do what was needed to be done,” and could no longer rely on SYRIZA looking the other way.

The small super-nationalist but politically irrelevant Elliniki Lysi (Greek Solution) party charged that the place where illegal migrants were hosted, illegally, at the City Plaza, the facility will now house migrants that entered the country illegally, "only now NGOs will now pay for them.”

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