The former head of the police officers’ union has suggested that the police are turning a blind eye to crimes committed by far-right groups, such as violent attacks on migrants, and has called for a change to the law to clamp down on individuals who choose to take the law into their own hands.
The police have been criticized in recent weeks for failing to take action to prevent offenses by members of neo-Nazi Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn), which gained almost 7 percent of the vote in the June 17 election. The force’s failure to apprehend Golden Dawn spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris after he attacked two female MPs on live TV earlier this month resulted in increased condemnation. There have been reports that a large proportion of police officers voted for the extreme-right party. These have neither been confirmed nor denied by the police.
The former head of the Panhellenic Confederation of Police Officers (POASY), Dimitris Kyriazidis, is the first with experience of the force to make a clear accusation against the police with respect to its handling of cases involving Golden Dawn.
“The police leadership has to take immediate measures against incidents of vigilantism, which are taking place across the country with immigrants as the target,” he told the pheme.gr website. “The heads of the police cannot turn a blind eye to far-right groups that are affiliated to Chrysi Avgi and which are rampaging through the country.”
Kyriazidis, who was elected as a New Democracy MP for the first time in the constituency of Drama in northern Greece in this month’s election, said that the government has to take tougher action against people who are caught taking the law into their own hands.
“The crime of vigilantism, such as that carried out by groups who want to replace law enforcement, should be treated separately and carry tougher sentences.”
As head of POASY, Kyriazidis had proposed in 2005, following riots in housing projects in Paris and other French cities, that the police enlist the help of immigrants. He suggested that immigrants could be used as translators and liaison officers to help create a connection between the police and immigrant communities.