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Society

Greek Roma Teen Shot During Police Chase Dies, His Community Grieves

THESSALONIKI – A 16-year old from Greece’s Roma community who was shot in the head by a police officer during a chase when the teen fled in a car after not paying for 20 euros ($21.07) of gasoline has died.

The report came from the hospital where he was being treated and leaders of his community who earlier called for calm after angry protests broke out in the aftermath of the shooting.
He had been hospitalized more than a week in Greece’s second-largest city after he was shot on Dec. 5 by a police officer on a motorbike involved in a chase. The officer said the youth tried to ram his team with the car.

The shooting led to days of often violent protests in Thessaloniki, Athens and other parts of Greece by members of the Roma community, despite pleas by community officials and some members of the teenager’s family to maintain calm.

“Everyone here is crying. It is unjust for a child to leave like this,” said Antonis Tasios, secretary of the Roma community where the teenager lived, confirming his death. “We have great pain.”

The hospital treating the youth, identified by some media reports as Kostas Frangoulis, said he had been in critical condition in the intensive care unit after undergoing emergency surgery, but that despite all efforts by medical staff, he died.

The 34-year-old police officer accused of firing the shot wasn’t named but was suspended under house arrest pending a court decision on whether to remand him into custody pending trial on a felony count of attempted manslaughter with possible intent and a misdemeanor count of illegally firing his weapon.

Earlier, Civil Protection Minister Takis Theodorikakos said the shooting of the Roma boy, was being investigated and “everyone should respect that,” as he tried to rein in the fury too, reported The Guardian.

He also said that the attacks and injuries sustained by police officers dealing with near-riots “must be unanimously condemned … we support the police but always strictly within the framework of the law. The law is for everyone without exception.”

The officer had told a public prosecutor the target was was the vehicle’s wheel and that he opened fire only twice after the teenager attempted to ram one of the pursuing police patrols, which put “the lives of my colleagues in danger,” the report added at the time.

“The only thing we want is justice,” the boy’s father told reporters. “The policeman should be punished and put inside because he shot a 16-year-old,” adding that his son should have paid but … should not have shot him and (tried to) kill him.”

(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)

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