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Greek Police Eye Ban On Rallies Marking Teen’s 2008 Killing

ATHENS – Unable to completely prevent people from taking part in Nov. 17 rallies marking the anniversary of a 1974 student uprising that helped bring down a military junta, Greek police are expected to prohibit Dec. 6 demonstrations noting the death of a teen in 2008 that set off riots.

The measures banning marches and rallies will be justified for reasons of public health, to avert the spread of the coronavirus, and will include fines for both organisers and participants of demonstrations and rallies . The police measures are expected to be finalised on Friday afternoon, after a series of meetings at the citizen protection ministry and police headquarters in Athens, with sources revealing that over 4,000 policemen will be patrolling in Athens.

The police plan intends to prevent protest rallies at the corner of Messolonghiou and Tzavella Streets in Exarchia, where Grigoropoulos was shot dead by special police guard Epaminondas Korkoneas on December 6, 2008, as well as in other places in Athens where people may gather.

Alexander Grigoropoulos was 15 when he was killed by bullets fired by special police guards with one of them, Epaminondas Korkoneas, convicted but released from jail in July, 2019. 

The teen's set sparked angry confrontations on the street between anarchists and riot police and a spate of arson attacks against buildings and cars that tore through the center of the Greek capital.

Protests since then haven't been as violent but the New Democracy government has put in a place a law requiring leaders of demonstrations to notify police and public gatherings of any kind have been banned during a second COVID-19 lockdown. 

It is noted that many lawyers, journalists, teachers, artists and other people have signed a text calling on people to pay tribute at the site of Grigoropoulos' murder on Sunday, while observing all the protection measures against Covid-19.

Police were unable on Nov. 17 to keep some protesters off the streets, especially the KKE Communists who defied the stay-at-home orders, insisting they were not a public health hazard because they wore masks and stayed a distance from each other, although still in violation of a gatherings ban.

There were also clashes with riot police who tried to disperse the crowds and those organizers are supposed to face fines of 3,000-5,000 euros ($3650.32-$6083.88) and participants 300 euros ($365.03) with no reports anyone paid.

Supreme Court prosecutor Anastasia Dimitriadou said earlier she'd the retrial Korkoneas, the case is being reviewed by Greece’s top court after an appeals court in Lamia, central Greece, upheld Korkoneas’ conviction but reduced his term from life to 13 years.

That ruling led to Korkoneas’ release from the high-security prison in Domokos, near Lamia, as he had already served 11 years of his life sentence in addition to the time he spent in prison pending his initial trial and conviction.

There was high tension in the courtroom when Korkoneas’ lawyer said attorneys for Grigoropoulos's family had no right to object to the appeal.

Korkoneas was released under a leniency law passed by the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA ironically tailor-made so that terrorist killers could get out of jail.

Korkoneas shot Grigoropoulos during a verbal altercation with him and a group of his friends as they were hanging out in the popular Athens neighborhood. A memorial to him stands there and he has been a cause celebre for anarchists since then.

The SYRIZA bill allowed prisoners to seek release after serving one-third of jail sentences of 20 years or more and was designed, said critics, to free dangerous terrorists, the party being riddled with their sympathetic supporters.

According to the case file, Korkoneas fired twice with his revolver in the direction of the group and one of the bullets rebounded off a cement structure and hit Grigoropoulos in the chest,

The attorney representing the Grigoropoulos family, Zoe Konstantopoulou, objected to the ruling, saying that it “will arm the hand of the next Korkoneas.”

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