ATHENS – The aftermath of a riot in the neighborhood of Nea Smyrni where thousands of people protested after a police was shown beating a man complaining about COVID-19 fines has ensnared another nine officers.
They are from the rapid response DIAS squad, said Kathimerini, teams on motorcycles, with one officer pulled off the back where he was riding and badly beaten by a mob.
The New Democracy government was egged on by the major rival SYRIZA, in violation of measures prohibiting large public gatherings and demonstrations, the scene flaring into an ugle scene of pitched battles on both sides.
It happened March 7, during what should have been a routine inspection for violations of COVID-19 restrictions, the paper said, people sitting in a central square irked they were being fined 300 euros ($358.21) for sitting outside.
One member of the first 10-man DIAS unit dispatched to make spot checks has already been suspended for using excessive force against a 29-year-old resident attacked after questioning why officers fining two families for allegedly being out of their homes without the proper authorization.
The other nine have been ordered to submit written accounts, the paper said, adding that they claimed they had to use force because they were the ones being attacked, by a crowd of 30 unarmed people.
The police said there were witnesses who could back up what they said but none were willing to testify, a source not named told the paper as the investigation continues.
The incident led Prime Minister and New Democracy leader to say there would be reforms for police including that they be required to wear bodycams that could provide video evidence of responses.