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Page last updated at 13:19 GMT, Monday, 15 December 2008

Athens hit by new protest rallies

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Protesters outside Athens' police headquarters

Hundreds of people are staging fresh protest rallies in Athens, after days of rioting sparked by the killing of a teenager by police in Greece.

They gathered near the capital's police headquarters and the main court, where some of the protesters arrested last week were to appear before magistrates.

The policeman accused of shooting Alexandros Grigoropoulos, aged 15, has been charged with murder.

The shooting has also generated widespread anti-government sentiment,

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

It [the government] is wasting away, collapsing and dissolving into a dead-end
George Papandreou
opposition Pasok party

Another poll, in the 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 conservative Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis has pulled off the unique feat of alienating all sections of Greek society.

Mr Karamanlis - who is on Monday attending the funeral of former Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos - has rejected calls to step down.

He said the country needed a "steady hand" to deal with the economic downturn, "not scenarios about elections and successions".

Economy fears

The new street protests are being held amid a heavy police presence.

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

Demonstrators are chanting anti-government slogans, but no major incidents have been reported so far.

Further protests are planned later on Monday outside parliament.

They come after calm was briefly restored in the capital on Sunday.

In all, some 70 people are said to have been injured in violent protests across Greece during the unrest sparked by the shooting on 6 December.

On Sunday, 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.

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