Greek police accused of using protester as human shield [Guardian]

Greek police increasingly joining fascist “Golden Dawn” party – Zuo Shou

* Witnesses say the young woman was frogmarched in handcuffs ahead of riot police as [they approached] protesters *

by Helen Smith

Oct 11, 2012


Greek authorities have launched an investigation into allegations that riot police used a female protester as a human shield during angry demonstrations over a visit to Athens by the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, this week.

Witnesses told the Guardian the young woman, who has yet to be identified, was frogmarched in handcuffs ahead of riot police as protesters threw stones at officers.

News of the investigation came as magistrates launched a separate inquiry into a Guardian report that anti-fascist protesters, arrested after clashing with extremists from the neo-nazi Golden Dawn party, were subjected to torture by officers at the Attica General Police Directorate. Human Rights Watch said accountability for police abuse was urgently needed.

The group said: “The scenes described by the victims to reporters are deeply shocking. No one should be treated that way by police. Greece needs to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation of their allegations.”

The inquiry into the human shield allegations was opened after photographs of the incident began to circulate on the internet, triggering condemnation of the tactics law enforcement officials stand increasingly accused of employing in Greece. “It is being investigated,” said Lieutenant Colonel Christos Manouras, Greece’s police spokesman. “We want to find out what these pictures hide.”

In the pictures, a young woman, her faced daubed in white anti-teargas solution, with a pink rucksack on her back, is seen being escorted by riot police before being placed in front of the unit when it encounters stone-throwing protesters. Witnesses said the woman appeared to be disoriented and terrified as she was marched through Athens in handcuffs.

Foula Pharmacides, a shipping company employee, had participated in the demonstration outside parliament, but fled down a side street off Syntagma Square when police fired teargas to disperse the crowds. She described terror on the woman’s face. “As the squad moved down Xenofontos Street with the girl, the protesters appeared,” she said. “Then when the protesters started throwing things, the cop holding the girl takes her from the front of the unit to the back to face them and he starts moving her like a shield from left to right…

[Further witness accounts can be found in original article, see below]

…As Greece descends into further chaos amid mounting social and political tensions, accusations of police brutality are growing. In recent months, reports have multiplied of codes of conduct being flouted by law enforcement officers.

The heavy-handedness has been attributed to links between the police force and the far-right Golden Dawn, whose popularity has surged on the back of soaring crime and anti-immigrant hysteria…

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