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Greek Roma Protest After Teenager Shot Dead by Police

Roma demonstrators took to the streets of several Greek towns and cities to protest about the death of a 17-year-old Roma male who was shot by an armed officer after failing to stop for a police check.

Protests were held on Monday in the cities of Thebes and Aliartos in central Greece and the town of Aspropyrgos near Athens after the shooting of a 17-year-old Roma male who was killed while fleeing from police in the town of Leontari in the Boeotia region.

On Sunday and Monday, Roma protesters blocked a road and burned rubbish bins in Piri of Thebes, while on Monday in Aliartos, a group of protesters also blocked a road and lit fires in bins, local media outlet radiothiva.gr reported.

The 17-year-old was shot in the early hours of Sunday after the car he was driving with his brother and two underage girls didn’t stop for when asked to by police.

Police officers gave chase and one of them opened fire, hitting the 17-year-old, who was not carrying a weapon.

A 40-year-old police officer is in custody and has been charged with homicide and illegal use of a weapon. His plea is expected on Thursday, Greek media reported. The police officer claims that the gun went off when the young Roma man tried to take it from his hands.

Greece’s Minister of Citizen Protection, Giannis Oikonomou, said that the investigation will bring all the facts to light.

“The case is in justice’s hands,” Oikonomou told SKAI TV.

“When we have circumstances of delinquency and distrust, the chances of having incidents with a tragic outcome unfortunately multiply; however, I emphasise that the police must always operate by weighing up incidents based on their training and what the rules of engagement define,” he added.

The Greek branch of rights watchdog organisation Amnesty International called for a transparent investigation.

“Amnesty International urgently calls for an immediate, thorough, transparent and effective investigation into the latest incident as well, including an investigation into a possible discriminatory motive,” Amnesty International said on Monday in a Facebook post.

In the past three years, three young Roma have been shot dead by the Greek police. In December 2022, 16-year-old Roma Kostas Fragoulis was shot in the head during a police chase in Thessaloniki and died in hospital eight days later.

In October 2021, 18-year-old Nikos Sampanis was fatally shot during a pursuit by a police patrol car in Perama, a suburb of Piraeus.

After the death of Sampanis, the Ministry of Citizen Protection decided to change the way the Greek police handle such incidents. It was announced that officers will be retrained and provided with cameras, although this has not yet happened.

Source : Balkan Insight