Protests in Greece after police shoot teenager

Access to the comments Comments
By Euronews  with AP
People blocking a main road set fire to rubbish bins outside the Ippokrateio General Hospital, in Greece's second largest city of Thessaloniki, on Monday, Dec 5, 2022.
People blocking a main road set fire to rubbish bins outside the Ippokrateio General Hospital, in Greece's second largest city of Thessaloniki, on Monday, Dec 5, 2022.   -   Copyright  AP Photo

Violent protests broke out in the Greek city of Thessaloniki late on Monday after a police shooting of a 16-year-old boy who allegedly filled his vehicle at a petrol station and drove off without paying.

The teenager remains in critical condition in hospital. The officer who allegedly shot him in the head was arrested and suspended from duty. Authorities say an internal investigation is underway. The officer is due to appear before a public prosecutor on Tuesday on charges of attempted manslaughter.

Around 1,500 people took part in the protest and six were arrested.

Before that protest, about a hundred Roma men set up barricades, blocking a main road outside the hospital where the boy was being treated, and set fire to trash cans. Police had used stun grenades and tear gas earlier to disperse protesters throwing bottles at them outside the hospital.

Several hundred people also took part in a peaceful protest march in central Athens over the teen's shooting as well as a past incident in which a Roma man also was shot during a police chase. The demonstrators in Greece's capital had a banner reading, “They shot them because they were Roma.” 

Members of the Roma community in Greece and human rights activists frequently accuse Greek authorities of discriminating against Roma. Several Roma men have been fatally shot or injured in recent years during confrontations with police while allegedly seeking to evade arrest for breaches of the law.

The injured youth was not named but was identified by relatives as being a member of the Roma minority. 

The incident occurred outside Thessaloniki before dawn Monday. Officers from a motorcycle patrol chased the teenager's pickup truck after authorities a gas station employee reported the unpaid bill of 20 euros.

Police say the officer fired two shots to try and stop the suspect from ramming the pursuing motorcycle on which he was a passenger. A statement said the driver of the pickup truck had “repeatedly made dangerous manoeuvres" and drove through red lights before the shots were fired, adding that the vehicle subsequently crashed.

Asked to comment on the shooting, government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou said: “The value of a human life can never be measured by any amount of money.”