ATHENS – While deployment of some 400 campus cops at colleges is in limbo, police raided old dormitory rooms at the National Technical University of Athens said to be used by a criminal gang and arrested 32.
Authorities said the suspects were part of an organization that carried out armed robberies, drug trafficking and other offenses and that they weren’t students but had occupied the rooms as hideouts.
“They used the campus as a staging ground to carry out robberies and drug trafficking,” Dimitris Davalos, Director of the Criminal Division of the greater Athens police department, said.
One suspect was hospitalized with a gunshot wound after allegedly attacking an arresting officer who also was injured, police said, but no names were given in keeping with data privacy laws.
Police said they had seized firearms, knives, expandable batons and other weapons, along with cocaine, marijuana and drug-processing equipment. Greek college grounds had often been used by criminal elements and drug dealers but the New Democracy government ended a policy of asylum at campuses but has backed off plans to let the new campus cops enter.
The raid, involving police special forces and members of an antiterrorism unit, took place amid a politically charged debate on policing at Greek universities where many academics and students don’t want them despite violent incidents.
For decades, police officers were legally banned from entering campus grounds without permission from academic authorities except in cases where life was in danger or other extreme incidents.
The restrictions were essentially scrapped in recent years, but plans to set up a campus police force have met strong resistance from left-wing opposition parties and many student groups not wanting them.
(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)