THESSALONIKI- As a suspect in the murder of a 19-year-old student – both were soccer fans – was to appear before a prosecutor, a video tape showing the victim’s attackers running away from the scene was released.
The incident highlighted hooliganish and brutal soccer rivalries in Greece’s second-largest city between the two teams there, the victim a backer of Aris and the suspect of PAOK.
The accused, 23, was not named but police said he could face charges of homicide with intent in the attack that included a beating and a karambit curved knife that caused Alkiviadis Kambanos to bleed to death from a thigh wound.
Other charges pending were causing dangerous bolidy harm and violations of laws on weapons and sports in the incident in which Kampanos and four friends were attacked by at least 10 people who pulled up in two cars.
Two of Kambanos’ friends were being treated for injuries to the head and buttocks and Kathimerini reported that the suspect was involving in another incident of hooligan violence in 2019 but wasn’t prosecuted.
The video released by news website thestival.gr showed suspects running to two stopped getaway cars and the newspaper earlier reported that neighbors showed police where the knife, at first thought to be a sickle, was thrown away.
The suspect was said to belong to the Palaion Patron Germanou Street PAOK fan club and has a history of violence-related offenses, including charges of assault with a bladed weapon in 2019 near the scene of the murder.
A police search of the PAOK fan club found and seized several items including several switchblades, motorcycle helmets, lead pipes, wooden bats, flares, and an assortment of other tools, the paper also said.
After the arrest, Citizens’ Protection Minister Takis Theodorikakos tweeted that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was briefed, the minister saying authorities will push the prosecution, which didn’t happen in the 2019 attack.
GAMES GO ON
The attackers were said to have demanded that the victim and his friends say which soccer team they supported and that Kambanos pleaded for the beating and assault to stop.
Even the brutal murder and reports that hooligans were running wild in the streets didn’t keep the Greek soccer league from continuing to play and fans of Aris hoisted banners to Kambanos in a tribute.
The banners went up in Kleanthis Vikelidis Stadium shortly before a scheduled match with visiting Athens side AEK, the paper reported.
“Words are unnecessary. Rest in peace, Alkis. You were taken in a cowardly and unjust way. May your soul be our guide,” the banner stated. Both sides held a minute’s silence and laid wreaths and then the game began.
Earlier, Aris players laid a jersey displaying the number 19 at the spot where he was killed and photographers covering the match said they would produce only black-and-white images of the game as an expression of their sorrow and anger at Kambanos’ murder.
Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou released a statement decrying the murder. “How can we tolerate our streets, our parks, and our squares becoming the setting of violence between rival gangs, endangering the lives of citizens?” she asked.
“And more importantly, how did violence become the only form of expression for a group of young people with issues of social inclusion, sentiments of marginalization, extremely negative perceptions, and fears of a cancelled future,” asked Sakellaropoulou.
“We all need to think and act right now, with no delays. Let the brutal act in Thessaloniki, that cost the life of a young person and injured two more, not become just one more incident in the ongoing transformation of social life into an arena of rivalry, bigotry, enmity, and ultimately, lethal inhumanity,” she said.