THESSALONIKI – Public Order and Citizen Protection Minister Takis Theodorikakos on Wednesday informed Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis that a 23-year-old man has been arrested as a suspect for the murder of a 19-year-old in Thessaloniki, in what appears to be an incident of sports-related violence.
“I contacted Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to inform him that a short while ago, the alleged perpetrator of the murder of 19-year-old Alkis in Thessaloniki was arrested. The Hellenic Police in this instance are doing their duty.
“I want to express my all my heart my deepest condolences to the family of Alkis, whose life was so unfairly and prematurely cut short. I know this will not alleviate the pain of his loved ones. At least, justice will be served,” Theodorikakos said on social media.
Police on Wednesday reported the arrest of a suspect for the murder of a 19-year-old in the Thessaloniki district of Harilaou the previous day.
Police sources said the suspect was a 23-year-old man of Albanian descent, who owns one of the two cars in which the perpetrators of the attack were riding. His role in the incident has not yet been fully clarified but sources said that he has been placed at the scene.
The suspect was brought in to the Thessaloniki police headquarters for questioning on Tuesday night and is to appear before a public prosecutor on Thursday.
According to witness accounts, the victim and four other young men, two of which were injured, were brutally attacked by a group of rival football team supporters riding in two cars in the early hours of Tuesday morning, for no other reason than that they supported a different team.
Greece’s second-largest city and major port of Thessaloniki has seen a surging outbreak of violence from groups said to be extreme rightists and soccer hooligans accosting victims, a 19-year-old student killed with a sickle.
In a report on the rising troubles, Kathimerini said there’s been a line of bloodh incidents “and a reminder that the violence that started in the spectator stands has now spread to the streets.”
People placed candles, flowers and notes, as well as scarves and jerseys of the Aris soccer team the site where the victim, Alkiviadis Kampanos, was killed in an attack where reports said he was asked what team he supports.
The rival PAOK – owned by Greek-Russian Ivan Savvidis who carried a gun onto the field during a championship match and had an arrest warrant issued again that wasn’t carried out – is known for having violent fans.
Kampanos was sitting with four friends when a group of at least 10 people in two cars pulled up and demanded to know what team they supported before they were attacked with sharp objects, one said to be a sickle later found nearby. He also reportedly had head injuries.
Kampanos was stabbed in the upper thigh and bled to death while two of his friends, aged between 18 and 20, were being treated for injuries to the head and buttocks, the paper said.
Police took 15 suspects into custody, none of them named, and arrested one in an incident that shocked a city used to clashes and violence and alarmed residents, who told police they saw where the weapon was dumped.
A neighbor who lives next to the spot, Lambros Pseftakis, told Kathimerini he heard a commotion and by the time he got to the scene, the ambulance had already arrived. “My neighbor told me she could hear the young man shouting, ‘Don’t hit me anymore, guys.’” he said.
Kampanos was a fan of the Aris team, but was not a club member, the report said, with speculation that the soccer-driven violence is now spreading beyond the stadia where games are held.
“There is an increase in fan violence, especially in recent months in Thessaloniki,” said Stella Doukou, a professor in the Department of Physical Education and Sports Science at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.
“Sometimes people resort to violence when they are oppressed, discriminated against, socially excluded or deprived, or when they feel out of control,” she told the paper.
In a statement, officials of Aris said that, “It was the cold-blooded murder of a 19-year-old child who, according to the testimonies, was a victim of the street ‘patrols’ conducted by assailants who were thirsty for blood.”
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis expressed horror over the teen’s murder when talking with Members of Parliament on the sidelines of a meeting with party officials in Thessaloniki, the paper said.
He contacted Citizen Protection Minister Takis Theodorikakos asking him that priority be given the investigation of the crime that has left residents of the city reeling in dismay.
Aristotle University rector Nikos Papaioannou said, “Alkis had his whole life ahead of him. He came to our university to make his dreams come true. Instead, he fell victim to blind fan violence. We are all devastated and we condemn in the most categorical way this heinous event.”
Soccer fan violence is common in Greece, even in the stands where they are allowed to set off flares and incendiary devices and frequently throw objects on the field and rivals attacking each other in the streets.
The chairmen of Aris football team and its amateur division offered to pay for legal representation in court of the family of Alkiviadis Kampanos.
Celebrity lawyer Alexis Kougias revealed he had been contacted by the two officials to represent the family of the young Aris fan at court, at their expense. He said in a statement that he would not accept any legal fees to represent the family against the nearly 10 defendants who were PAOK fans, but would do it gratis.