Probe ordered into sit-in, riots

The Athens first instance prosecutor Eleni Raikou on Tuesday ordered a series of probes into the causes, circumstances and repercussions of a spate of arson and looting that broke out during an anti-austerity rally on Sunday night. The chief probe is to focus on a sit-in at the Athens Law School, which began in the middle of last week and ended when the rioting stopped. Raikou is to investigate whether rioters used the premises of the Law School to “reload” during clashes with police who were pelted with homemade firebombs and chunks of rock. It remains unclear whether the sit-in was organized by students or anti-establishment protesters, or both. The sit-in fueled debate as it followed the lifting of the so-called university asylum law last summer, allowing police access to university grounds. The spokesman for conservative New Democracy, Yiannis Michelakis, blasted Citizens’ Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis for failing to break up the sit-in and called on judicial officials to determine why the new law permitting police access to university grounds was not enforced. The rector of Athens University, Theodosis Pelegrinis, said he informed both Papoutsis and Raikou about the sit-in in two letters last week. It was unclear whether the letters were delayed due to red tape. The police said that they guarded the faculty but stated they had not received a prosecutor’s order to enter the university premises. Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou also sent a letter, to Pelegrinis, asking him to explain what measures were taken to protect the faculty and the people in it. Raikou has lined up another four probes; one is into claims by the Athens Bar Association that the police’s use of tear gas posed a health risk for citizens; another is to determine the circumstances that led to leftist veteran Manolis Glezos and composer Mikis Theodorakis seeking medical aid during Sunday night’s rally. Raikou is also to probe claims by business owners that they were asked to pay a fee to protect their premises from vandalism. A separate probe will focus on the buildings that were vandalized.  

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