11 October 2010
Police officer is convicted in 15-year-old's murder
A Greek saga dating back to 2008 comes to an end and reminds onlookers of the social impact of Greece's economic crisis.
On October 11, a Greek court sentenced a policeman to life in prison for murdering a 15-year-old schoolboy in a shooting nearly two years ago that sparked rioting across the country. Epaminondas Korkoneas was convicted of culpable homicide for the death of Alexis Grigoropoulos and his patrol partner Vassilios Saraliotis was found guilty of complicity in the crime.
On December 6 the two police officers got into an altercation with a group of school aged youth in the Exarchia district of Athens. The officers say the incident was a terrible accident and that the police officer was acting out of self defense when he fired warning shots. Witnesses that testified in the trial say that the policeman took aim and fired.
Lawyers for the officers say they will appeal the case.
A spokesperson for the victim’s mother, Gina Tsakilian, says, “justice has been done.”
BBC correspondent Malcolm Brabant says, “anything other than a guilty verdict could have triggered a violent response from the country’s youth, many of whom regard the police with suspicion, mistrust and outright hatred.
“While students and young Greeks may welcome the verdict, it does not address other grievances that also contributed to the 2008 riots.”
Greek youth have dubbed themselves “Generation 700,” referencing Greece’s minimum wage of €700 per month. The title laments the fact that despite a university degree most young Greeks, under 35, can’t find work and are constricted to take low paying jobs and forced to continue living at home.
Vassillis Alevizakos one of the founding members of the site G700 explains that their parents were “baby boomers” and by no fault of their own this generation will be a group of “baby losers.”
Greece’s national statistic body confirms that 32 per cent of young people are unemployed and the International Monetary Fund has predicted that that number will only rise over the next two years.
Eurostat, a European statistical body, says that 56 per cent of Greek men under 35 and 36 per cent of women still live at home.