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Greek police accused of brutality after another boy shot – Health and Lifestyle News – Report by AFR

Anger at a 16-year-old boy being shot in the head by Greek police Monday after driving away from a petrol station without paying has again thrown a spotlight on alleged police brutality in the country.

The shooting is is the latest in a long line of controversial incidents and comes a year after another Roma youth was killed near the port of Piraeus, also after a police chase.

As the 16-year-old boy fought for his life in hospital following the shooting, members of his family clashed with police in the second city of Thessaloniki and protesters later on Monday night threw petrol bombs.

Police claim they opened fire on the teenager to stop the pick-up truck he was driving from hitting officers on motorbikes as he tried to get away.

The shooting comes as protests will be held in several Greek cities Tuesday to mark the death of another teenager, Alexandros Grigoropoulos, who was shot and killed by police in 2008.

And last month mobile phone footage taken from an Athens balcony showed riot police beating a group of visiting Aris Thessaloniki football fans, apparently without provocation.

– Police station rape –

In October, a 19-year-old woman accused two officers of raping her inside an Athens police station.

Anger mounted when a lawyer representing one of the officers, who are free pending trial, said the alleged victim had “flirted” with the suspects and they had “succumbed to the girl’s fantasy”.

Despite the growing disquiet at police behaviour and seeming impunity, the country’s leaders seem at pains to play down the problem. 

Lefteris Oikonomou, the country’s deputy citizen’s protection minister, last month insisted Greek police were “governed by democratic ethics, respect for human rights and stand close to citizens.”

And last year after the first Roma youth was killed, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis bristled at criticism. 

“The police are simply doing their job,” he told Mega TV. “Of course, there is very significant room for improvement… with more training, transparency and means.”

But in September Greek bar associations complained of a “steady increase in cases of police violence” and said even lawyers were being targeted.

The Greek ombudsman’s office — the independent watchdog tasked with defending citizens’ rights — said it had received over 300 new police abuse complaints last year, a 17-percent increase over 2020.

In many cases, the independent authority found that internal police investigations “failed to seek out key witnesses including coroners, and to adequately evaluate medical findings” or other evidence of alleged abuse.

– ‘Hooded Robocops’ –

The ombudsman’s report also found that migrants were “systematically” targeted by police, that illegal use of arms and beatings were often “hushed up” and that officers routinely showed “disdain” when called upon to testify in court.

Out of nearly 140 cases of police violence and brutality investigated last year, only 22 ended in sanctions, the report added.

Greek police did not respond to AFP questions about the issue.

In a 2019 incident that shocked Greece, police stormed the home of award-winning film director Dimitris Indares in a pre-dawn raid to clear a squat next door.

Indares said “hooded Robocops” had beaten him and his two sons up after failing to catch the squatters.

Outrage over the incident, which was caught on film, prompted the formation of a special investigative committee, which included senior officers. 

It reported alarmingly high levels of police “impunity” in Greece.

– ‘Extremely poor’ training –

Nikos Alivizatos, one of the country’s top legal experts who headed the committee, told AFP that police training is “extremely poor”.

“Police trainers themselves are in need of retraining,” he said.

At the trial last month that acquitted director Indares and his sons of resisting arrest, the state prosecutor acknowledged that the family had been subjected to “blind, raw, arbitrary police violence”.

In a similar case brought before the ombudsman’s office, a man arrested after a 2019 protest said he was taken to a police station “bruised and limping”. 

Riot police had earlier kicked and beat him with truncheons, stripped him to his underwear and bashed his head against a wall, he said.

Police in Greece have long struggled to live down their role in the country’s seven-year dictatorship, particularly their part in the brutal 1973 crackdown against students in Athens in which more than 20 people died.

In 1992, then prime minister Constantinos Mitsotakis — the present PM’s father — caused uproar by telling police “you are the state”, which was interpreted as giving them licence to do as they pleased.

Ioannis Ktistakis, a Greek judge at the European Court of Human Rights, told parliament in March that Greece has been hit with nearly 950 rights-related convictions at the court over the last 30 years.

Last year it was found guilty 13 times, one of the highest rates in the EU. 

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