Seven Greek police officers were charged with intentional homicide on Sunday for shooting and killing a young Roma after a car chase on Saturday morning in the Perama area of Piraeus.
Police say that the officers fired shots at the driver of a car who tried to ram them. The officers of the DIAS motorcycle police unit signaled to the driver of a car which they suspected was stolen to stop for a check, but the driver sped off.
The chase ended when the driver was said to to have turned the car toward the police pursuers and tried to run them over. Officers started shooting towards the car, killing the driver and wounding a 16-year-old passenger, while a third man inside the vehicle managed to escape and is wanted by police. Six officers were also hurt, police said.
In a video filmed by a witness from a distance captured the sound of what appeared to be at least 20 gunshots being fired at the scene.
A separate case file was opened for the injured passenger and the man who fled the scene, who could face charges for attempted homicide. Police sources said the man killed had been arrested at the age of 14 for thefts.
Police investigation for shooting launched
The Minister of Civil Protection Takis Theodorikakos ordered a ballistic and disciplinary investigation which is expected to shed light on what exactly happened at Perama.
According to a report in Kathimerini, the Police Operations Center had repeatedly ordered the DIAS motorcycle units to stop the chase of the car for fear of civilian casualties, but the order was apparently either ignored or not heard during the confusion of the chase.
“They have stated categorically that they did not hear any such orders,” their lawyer, Alexis Kougias, told ANT1.
According to unconfirmed reports, the head of the DIAS unit shot first to immobilize the vehicle. Other officers mistakenly believed that they were being fired upon and started shooting in response.
Greek police have been accused of brutality
There have been several recorded incidents of police brutality recently in Greece. Four police officers are currently on trial over the killing of prominent LGBTQ activist Zak Kostopoulos, who was beaten to death in Athens on September 21, 2018.
In June, a Greek citizen filed a lawsuit against the police anti-terrorism unit, claiming that he had been tortured by police in March. Arrested and questioned at Athens Police headquarters, also known as GADA, the suit claims he was beaten and tortured by masked officers and even threatened with rape.
In March 2021, the Greek police were accused of brutality when officers in Athens were caught on video throwing to the ground an apparently peaceful resident and beating him with their batons.
In late 2019, Dimitris Indares, a Greek filmmaker, and his two sons were arrested on the roof of their own home in Athens by Greek riot police who had stormed a squat next door.
Indares, who was beaten and bruised by the riot police, was taken to the hospital and released wearing a cervical collar. The filmmaker posted photographs of himself on social media after the ordeal.
Photographs show that he and his two sons had been handcuffed and forced to sit on the terraced roof of their own house, despite their protestations that they had nothing to do with the squat next door.