Page last updated at 22:53 GMT, Sunday, 14 December 2008

Calm returns to Athens after riot

A man comforts a woman in front of messages left by people at the site where Alexandros Grigoropoulos was shot dead (14 December 2008)
Some 300 people staged a peaceful vigil at the site of the boy's death

Calm has returned to the Greek capital, Athens, after eight consecutive days of rioting sparked by the shooting dead by police of a 15-year-old boy.

Youths threw petrol bombs on Saturday night at the police station where the officer charged with the murder of Alexandros Grigoropoulos was based.

Students are planning a protest on Monday outside the police headquarters.

A poll has suggested most people think the riots are a social uprising rather than just a reaction to the shooting.

Sixty per cent of those questioned by the Kathimerini newspaper rejected the assertion that the disturbances have been merely a series of co-ordinated attacks by a small hard core of anarchists.

Another poll, in the left-wing Ethnos newspaper, suggested that 83% of Greeks were unhappy with the government's response to the violence. Kathimerini put the disapproval rating at 68%.

The BBC's Malcolm Brabant in Athens says the results appear to confirm what many commentators have been saying - that Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis has pulled off the unique feat of alienating all sections of Greek society.

Economy fears

So far, it is estimated that 400 people have been detained and 70 injured during the unrest sparked by the shooting on 6 December.

[The government] is wasting away, collapsing and dissolving into a dead-end... Its political time is finished
George Papandreou
Panhellenic Socialist Movement

After a series of largely peaceful demonstrations during the day on Saturday, about 100 youths attacked a police station in the Exarchia district, close to where he was killed, throwing petrol bombs, rocks and stones.

The rioters were driven off by police volleys of tear gas, but regrouped in a commercial district nearby, setting fire to three banks and overturning cars.

Police subsequently charged a peaceful candlelit vigil in Syntagma Square, when those taking part refused to move further away from the parliament building and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

By Sunday morning, the rioters and police had disappeared from the streets and calm was restored to the centre of the capital. About 300 people staged a peaceful vigil at the site of the boy's death.

Protests in Athens on 13 December
At least 70 people have been injured in the protests sparked by the shooting

Later, the leader of the opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok) demanded elections and said the government "ignores the calls of society, is incapable of steadily driving the country towards change, and is afraid of the people."

"It is wasting away, collapsing and dissolving into a dead-end... Its political time is finished," George Papandreou told a party meeting.

A top union official meanwhile warned that with around a quarter of the young age group involved in the disturbances being unemployed, the unrest could grow in the coming months as more people lose their jobs.

"A massive wave of redundancies will kick in come the New Year when, according to our estimates, 100,000 jobs will be lost, which represents an additional 5% on the unemployment rate," said Stathis Anestis of the General Confederation of Greek Workers.

Prime Minister Karamanlis has rejected calls to step down, saying the country needs a "steady hand" to deal with the economic downturn, "not scenarios about elections and successions".

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