An immediate probe and Sworn Administrative Inquiry (EDE) has been ordered into TV footage on Wednesday's violence in central Syntagma Square showing four individuals with their faces covered, one of which was carrying a crowbar, in conversation with MAT riot police who then allowed the former through the police line outside parliament at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Citizens Protection minister Christos Papoutsis late Wednesday night, after the video footage was shown on private Alter television station and subsequently carried on several websites, instructed Greek Police (ELAS) chief Eleftherios Economou to order an immediate investigation.
According to the video footage, during Wednesday's violence, five men with their faces covered, one of whom was carrying a crowbar, who were described on blog sites as "para-state" individuals, allegedly cooperated with MAT riot police in the arrest of a member of the small, non-parliamentary ANT.AR.SY.A (Anti-Capitalist Leftist Cooperation for Reversal) party, after which the MAT police allowed them behind the police lines deployed in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
The ELAS chief immediately ordered an urgent investigation by the Attica security police, and a parallel Sworn Administrative Inquiry (EDE) into the affair.
Athens prosecution chief Eleni Raikou late Wednesday sent a document to Alter television station for the video, which was first shown on the station's main night news programme. The prosecution office will study the footage and decide on further action.
In an early morning development, Infrastructures, Transport and Networks minister Yiannis Ragoussis ordered the president and CEO of the Urban Bus Organisation (OSY, formerly ETHEL) to launch an urgent probe into statements by ETHEL union officials that at least two of the five men appearing in the video to be talking with MAT police before being allowed behind the police lines were ETHEL unionists.
Ragoussis called for an investigation into the allegations and the exemplary punishment and immediate launching of disciplinary procedures.
ETHEL employees' union president Michalis Liagouris told ANA-MPA that at least two of the men in question were ETHEL unionists, and one of them in particular had also been a member of the workers' board in the past, but had been removed several months ago due to "extremist views".
Liagouris declined revealing the man's name, saying that this was the job of the police.
A total of 17 people were arrested and 43 others were taken in for questioning during the violence, while 49 police officers were injured and taken to a military hospital.
An announcement by the ELAS headquarters later on Thursday said that the four people appearing in the controversial video footage were ETHEL employees who were in a side-street off Othonos street when they were attacked by a group of hooded individuals during the demonstration.
The police headquarters announcement said that the citizens who were eye-witnesses to the incident had called the police emergency number, and a team of MAT riot police were sent to the scene to rescue them, after which they escorted them to the parliament surrounds, where they remained for 20 minutes and then left.
Police employees' federation president
The president of the Pan-Hellenic Federation of Police Employees (POASY) on Thursday apologised to the Greek citizens for the deportment of some police officers during the incidents, in a statement on a private radio station.
"I apologise to the citizens. It is shameful," POASY president Christos Fotopoulos said on private Real FM radio station.
Asked if the police had "political instructions to attack the citizens", Fotopoulos said he cannot accept the possibility that the police acted on their own accord.
"If that is the case, then we are a disorderly corps and someone must put us in order," he said, adding: "If that is called democracy and smooth and proper function of the police, I reply with a resounding 'no'. Shame, shame, shame."
Fotopoulos called for an in-depth investigation, adding that nothing should remain secret.
He further accused the civilian leadership of "calling in the police to deal with political problems, which require other interventions, instead of being at the side of the citizens".
Hotel owners in Athens decry violence
The Association of Athens-Attiki Hotel Owners expressed sorrow and abhorrence for the violent clashes in the center of Athens, in a statement issued on Thursday.
The association expressed support to the downtown hotel “the management of which, was forced to evacuate its guests for their own protection, as well as, to the rest of the hotels located in the greater Syntagma Square area that, being located close to the Parliament building, suffer for years the consequences of the works and days of those who are in office.”
“We believe that in yesterday’s incidents all sides involved were out of control and we appeal for more self-restraint in the difficult times we are going through and the much more difficult times that lie ahead for all of us,” the statement read.