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Riot police in the dock

18 officers charged with causing grievous bodily harm at protests in June 2011

After two and a half years, 18 policemen go on trial for the orgy of violence unleashed against demonstrators protesting against austerity measures in June 2011

A demonstrator is detained by riot police during anti-austerity protests in Athens on 29 June 2011 (Photo: John Kolesidis, Reuters) A demonstrator is detained by riot police during anti-austerity protests in Athens on 29 June 2011 (Photo: John Kolesidis, Reuters) Eighteen police officers from two anti-riot units are appearing before a court on Monday on charges of inflicting grievous bodily harm on demonstrators and bystanders during protests against the passing of austerity measures two and a half years ago.

The parliamentary vote on 29 June 2011 on the medium-term programme of measures, which the troika made a condition for the payment of further emergency loan instalments, was accompanied by unprecedented levels of violence and use of tear gas and stun grenades by the riot police in and around Syntagma Square.

About 500 people were hospitalised during the incidents.

The police, from the Delta and Mat units, are appearing before Athens misdemeanour court.

According to the prosecutor's six-page indictment, which has been seen by Eleftherotypia, "the way the acts were committed, the means used (chemicals, tear gas, stun grenades, truncheons) and the body parts targeted (head and vital organs) could have endangered life or caused serious injury".

The prosecutor, Eftymia Verriotou, also levels the serious charge that some of the injured were left unattended and that ambulances were prevented from reaching the scene to offer first aid.

This is despite the fact that "state authorities have a specific legal obligation to assist those responsible for civil protection, public safety and health".

The trigger for the judicial investigation into the excessive and unjustified police violence was a criminal complaint lodged against the police by Syriza leader Alexis Tspiras, who testified before prosecutors on 2 July 2011. After little action was taken, Tsipras resubmitted his complaint in April 2012.

The scene on Syntagma Square (File photo) The scene on Syntagma Square (File photo) The file against the officers includes photographs of the injured, images of police beating protesters, details of the chemicals fired, hospital reports, three DVDs containing video images, a report into the day's events by the Attica police directorate and press reports.

Among the charges in the indictment is that officers from the Delta and Mat units, who were positioned at the corner of Omirou and Stadiou streets, attacked Emmanouil (Manolis) Liolios, kicking and punching him and beating him on his head with their batons, inflicting head injuries, as well as bruises and abrasions all over his body, causing breathlessness, nosebleeds, headaches and dizziness.

It also accuses the operations leader of the Dias motorcycle platoon of ordering his officers to fire a chemical asphyxiant and stun grenades indiscriminately into a crowd of protesters, thereby causing physical injury (fainting, shortness of breath, burns and injuries) to a large numbers of citizens.

Among these injured were Grigoris Kalomoiris, the vice chairman of civil servants federation Adedy, Nikos Adamopoulos, the leader of Nea Ionia's municipal workers union, Kostas Lourantos, the head of the Pharmaceutical Society of Athens, and student Petros Markopoulos, who suffered burns to his back from tear gas.

In addition, the Dias operations chief is accused of ordering his men to throw rocks and stones at demonstrating citizens, leading to the injury of Lefteris Panaretos, head of the staff union at Elpis hospital.

The commander is also accused of ordering a violent attack against another group of citizens, in which police used their batons and boots to injure a number of people.

The incitement also charges that the police, through their own actions, "intentionally made the crowd helpless and exposed them to immediate danger to life and health".

Specifically, it mentions the cases of three injured demonstrators whom the police abandoned at the scene of the disturbances and prevented ambulances from accessing them, despite knowing that the three had been injured as a result of "wrongful conduct of police subordinates".

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