Police officer injured during protest against police violence in Athens

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Greek police said an officer was seriously injured in the head as clashes broke out Tuesday evening at a protest of some 5,000 people in Athens against police violence.

The demonstration follows an uproar over viral video footage showing an officer beating a man with a baton during a patrol to check that people were following Covid-19 restrictions on Sunday.

An AFP photographer at the scene of Tuesday’s protest said clashes broke out after a group of around 200 masked protesters headed towards the police station in Nea Smyrni, the calm Athens suburb where Sunday’s beating had taken place.

The demonstrators threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at a police station and police responded with tear gas and water cannon, AFP reported. Around a dozen dustbins were set on fire, prompting firefighters to intervene.

Police said the injured officer had been rushed to hospital, while some protesters had been arrested even before the clashes broke out for possession of Molotov cocktails and iron bars.

Mitsotakis, Tsipras trade barbs over protest rallies

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis accused the main opposition of undermining the measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus by calling for protests, amid hightened tensions following an apparent incident of police brutality in a residential Athens suburb over the weekend.

“SYRIZA’s official call for participation in citizen protest rallies in the midst of the pandemic is an act of great irresponsibility,” Mitsotakis said in a statement on Tuesday.

Mitsotakis said the call “is an affront to our healthcare workers struggling day and night.”

On its side, SYRIZA responded that the prime minister is “in panic due to the incompetence of his government.”

“We inform him that the only one who has the power to motivate citizens – regardless of party affiliation – to mobilize in the middle of a lockdown, is his policy and himself,” it added. 

*With information from Kathimerini, AP

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