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Friday, June 12, 2009

Greece judges order officers to stand trial for killing that sparked protests
Jaclyn Belczyk at 2:23 PM ET

[JURIST] A Greek council of judges in Athens on Friday ordered two police officers to stand trial for the murder of 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos [BBC report] that sparked violent protests in December. Officer Epameinonta Korkonea, who is accused of shooting Grigoropoulos, is charged with intentional murder [Ta Nea report, in Greek], and Basil Saralioti is charged with complicity. The judges also ordered that the two accused officers remain in custody [Eleftherotypia report, in Greek] for another six months. The officers claim that they did not intend to kill [AP report] Grigoropoulos and that he was struck by a stray bullet after they fired a warning shot. Reports indicated that Grigoropoulos and other youth were throwing stones at a police car and that the police believed he was throwing explosives. No trial date has been set. The men face up to life in prison if convicted.

In March, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] said that Greek authorities were not doing enough to ensure that the nation's police respect human rights [JURIST report], and urged the government to investigate and address "long-standing problems of policing." AI said allegations of human-rights abuses, including torture, the use of excessive force, arbitrary detentions, and denial of prompt legal assistance, continue to be lodged against Greek police. Earlier that month, the Greek government said that it would revamp its police force [JURIST report] in light of the riots. Demonstrations and riots protesting the shooting took place for weeks after Grigoropoulos' death. The Greek police have been accused of being both ineffective and unnecessarily violent [JURIST op-ed] in their response to the protests.

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