, ATHENS, Dec 7 – Demonstrations in Greece to mark the sixth anniversary of the death of a teenager at the hands of police descended into violence Saturday, with officers using tear gas and water cannon against protesters throwing stones and Molotov cocktails.
Demonstrators in central Athens set fire to bins, vandalised bus stops and smashed shop windows. Much of the violence took place in the Exarcheia district, where 15 year old Alexis Grigoropoulos was killed by a policeman in 2008.
Organisers said some 10,000 people took to the streets of the capital to remember the anniversary, while police put the figure at half that.
Police said late Saturday they had made more than 200 arrests. There were no immediate reports of any injuries.
There were also clashes in Greece’s second city of Thessaloniki, where some 6,000 people took to the streets. Violence was also reported at rallies in several other cities.
Greek riot police had been on alert for the remembrance day, which this year took on extra significance as marchers also rallied in support of Nikos Romanos, a 21 year old jailed for attempted bank robbery.
Romanos, who has been accepted into a business degree programme, went on hunger strike last month after he was refused educational leave.
Romanos is known to many Greeks as the friend who was standing next to Grigoropoulos when he was shot during a row with two police officers. The incident plunged Greece into weeks of riots.
Romanos’s battle has already sparked several demonstrations in Greece this week. Marchers in Athens on Saturday carried banners reading “The December flame has not been extinguished” and “Victory for Nikos Romanos”.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is to meet Romanos’s parents on Monday.