Rachel Donadio and Anthee Carassava
International Herald Tribune
December 10, 2008

ATHENS: The Greek government on Wednesday defended its response to the crisis that has gripped the country since a teenager was fatally shot in a police confrontation last weekend, saying that officials in Athens had chosen not to crack down on a violent minority in an effort to avoid further bloodshed.

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t

Even as new clashes erupted during a general strike that disrupted transport, schools and other services across Greece, a government spokesman said that he expected the crisis to tail off.

“I think it’s going to fade out,” said Panos Livadas, general secretary of the Information Ministry. “I think reason will prevail. I also think we will keep on doing our best not to have a future risk of innocent life. No more innocent blood. It’s O.K. if we have to wait a day or two.”

The statement coincided with an offer by Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis to compensate shopkeepers whose premises have been damaged in the riots that have swept Greece since Saturday, when the police shot and killed Alexandros Grigoropoulos, 15.

Tensions remained high Wednesday in Athens and other big cities. Fighting erupted outside Parliament, where several thousand demonstrators had gathered to mark the general strike, and outside the main courthouse in the capital, where two police officers involved in the shooting that started the riots were testifying behind closed doors. The riot police reacted by firing tear gas as youths threw rocks and gasoline bombs.

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