Inquiry into claims Greek police used human shield

Fri, Oct 12, 2012, 01:00

ATHENS – Greek authorities have launched an investigation into allegations that riot police used a female protester as a human shield during angry demonstrations over a visit to Athens by the German chancellor Angela Merkel this week.

Witnesses said the young woman, who has yet to be identified, was frogmarched in handcuffs ahead of riot police as protesters threw stones at officers.

News of the investigation came as magistrates launched a separate inquiry into a Guardian report that anti-fascist protesters, arrested after clashing with extremists from the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, were subjected to torture by officers at the Attica General Police Directorate. Human Rights Watch said accountability for police abuse was urgently needed.

The group said: “The scenes described by the victims to reporters are deeply shocking. No one should be treated that way by police. Greece needs to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation of their allegations.”

The inquiry into the human shield allegations was opened after photographs of the incident began to circulate on the internet, triggering condemnation of the tactics law enforcement officials stand increasingly accused of employing in Greece.

“It is being investigated,” said Lieut Col Christos Manouras, Greece’s police spokesman. “We want to find out what these pictures hide.”

In the pictures, a young woman, her faced daubed in white anti-teargas solution, with a pink rucksack on her back, is seen being escorted by riot police before being placed in front of the unit when it encounters stone-throwing protesters. Witnesses said the woman appeared to be disoriented and terrified as she was marched through Athens in handcuffs.

Sokratis Michalopoulos, a witness, said: “I don’t think I will ever forget her face. It was as if she were an object not a human being and I think she was in shock. She was definitely being used as a shield.” – (Guardian service)