Greek Police shoot 20-year-old Romani man dead, unrest breaks out in Athens, officers involved have been arrested
The Greek Reporter news server has reported that in the early morning hours of Saturday, 23 October, the Greek Police shot dead a 20-year-old Romani man in the Perama suburbs west of Athens as the officers, who were on motorcycles, pursued a vehicle they believed had been stolen. Police shot the driver dead and also injured a 15-year-old passenger, while another teenager in the vehicle fled the scene.
Romani people then took to the streets to protest. Seven police officers associated with the death of the Romani man have been arrested.
All of the arrested officers were allegedly involved in pursuing the vehicle and were also injured during the subsequent shootout, but the Greek Police have yet to publicize information about the seriousness of their injuries. The chase began after the officers tried to get the driver to stop the vehicle on the side of the road, and police subsequently confirmed that it had been stolen.
The driver refused to stop and kept on driving. The officers began pursuing him on their motorcycles.
“Police used a weapon to stop the vehicle, resulting in the fatal injury of the driver and the injury of one of the passengers, who was taken to hospital, is being treated, and is out of danger,” the police statement also said. The death of the driver sparked outrage among the Romani community in Athens and surrounding areas that resulted in protests all over the city.
According to the European Commission, there are about 265 000 Romani people living in Greece, not quite 2.5 % of the population. They live scattered through about 70 settlements all over the country, predominantly on the outskirts of cities.
Greek Reporter has identified the main centers of the Romani community as being in Agia Varvara, in Athens, which has a very successful Romani community, and in Ano Liosia, where many reportedly face great hardship. There is also a big population of Romani people in Thessaly.
Romani community members frequently report facing discrimination and racism from their fellow non-Romani citizens in Greece. In recent years, Romani communities have frequently been assaulted by ultra-right extremists, according to the Greek Reporter news server.
This incident was not the first time that contact between the Greek Police and the Roma has ended in tragedy, the news server reports. Ten years ago, a Romani girl was accidentally killed by a Greek police officer on a motorcycle outside a Romani settlement in the Menidi suburb of western Athens.
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