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Protesters rampage through shopping area in central Athens


Greece

Protesters rampage through shopping area in central Athens

Shop owners in central Athens are clearing up after after around 100 protesters marched through the area throwing rocks and smashing windows.

The protest followed a court’s rejection of an appeal by a 29-year-old student against her conviction of belonging to a radical anarchist group.

“We heard a group of protesters. Suddenly we heard bang, bang, bang we ran out of the shop and we saw that everything was broken,” said shop worker Giannis.

Tourist Tzasem Ahmet said: “I saw a group of people trying to break everything … It’s so sad. I could not do anything. I saw them and I couldn’t do anything.”

Who are the Conspiracy of Fire Cells?

Members of the Conspiracy of Fire Cells first surfaced on January 21, 2008, with a wave of 11 firebombings against luxury car dealerships and banks in Athens and Thessaloniki. Monthly waves of arson have been followed by proclamations expressing solidarity with arrested anarchists in Greece and elsewhere.

In September 2009, following an escalation to the use of crude time bombs, four suspected members of the group were arrested. In November 2010 two more suspects were arrested while attempting to mail parcel bombs to embassies and EU leaders and organizations.

The organization was designated as a terrorist group on October 13, 2011, by the U.S. Department of State.

Unsafe conviction?

The student at the centre of the protest denies any involvement with the group. The woman, referred to in the local media by her first name, Irianna, had asked for her 13-year jail sentence to be suspended. She was convicted after a partial fingerprint was found on a gun clip discovered in an arms cache.

Her lawyer argues that Irianna was only implicated because her boyfriend was a suspected member of the group, although he was later cleared, and that the DNA evidence connecting her to the ammunition is not up to scrutiny. Irianna, who worked as a teacher, argued that her career and academic ambitions are being damaged by being kept in jail.

However, the court ruled in a majority decision to continue enforcing the jail sentence after the prosecutor argued that if she is freed, there is a high probability of the 29-year-old reoffending.