Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Greek police officer convicted of Alexandros murder

Epaminondas Korkoneas, right

The police officer charged with the murder of Alexandros Grigoropoulos, which sparked heavy rioting across the country, has been found guilty.

Al Jazeera reported that in a 4-3 verdict on Monday, a Greek jury found Epaminondas Korkoneas, 38, guilty of intentionally shooting 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos on December 06, 2008. The panel also found Vassilios Saraliotis, Korkoneas' patrol partner, guilty of complicity in the crime.

The court will sentence Korkoneas later on Monday. He had pleaded not guilty but the prosecutors have asked for life in prison. The trial which started in January heard that Korkoneas fired three shots while patrolling in Exarchia, an area of bars and cafés known for popular unrest.

Alexis Kougias, Korkoneas' lawyer, said that the teenager's death was a tragic accident which occured as police fired warning shots to stop youngsters from hurling stones at them. An autopsy report showed that the boy was hit by a bullet that ricocheted on to him, however a witnesses testified that the policeman took aim at the boy and fired.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, John Psaropoulos, editor of Athens News, said that "from the very beginning, there were two versions of what had happened. "The official version was that the policeman had fired a warning shot in the air which ricocheted on a concrete overhang and struck the young man in the heart at an angle but witnesses circulated on blogs that the policeman had simply walked up to the 15-year old, pointed his gun at him, and shot him."

The nine-month trial had to be moved from Athens to Amfissa, 200km northwest of the capital for security reasons as activists threatened kill Korkoneas. Grigoropoulos' death prompted two weeks of nationwide riots - covered on http://libcom.org/tags/greece-unrest - in which youths torched cars and buildings, and looted stores. The aftermath of the incident has also seen a resurgence of urban guerrilla attacks, mostly focusing on police and government targets.

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