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Greece 'runs out of tear gas' during violent protests

Greece has issued an international appeal for more tear gas after supplies ran low because police fired so much of it during a week of violent protests across the country.

 
Greek protests - Greece 'runs out of tear gas' during violent protests
Demonstrators, in a cloud of tear gas, hurl rocks at police during clashes in central Athens Photo: AP

Officers released 4,600 capsules of tear gas during confrontations in Athens and nearly a dozen other cities since riots erupted over the fatal shooting of a 15-year-old schoolboy by a policeman last Saturday.

The greek government is urgently seeking fresh supplies of tear gas from Israel and Germany, the police said.

Yesterday, a report disputed claims by lawyers for the policeman accused of killing Alexandros Grigoropoulos that the bullet hit the boy after ricocheting.

The Kathimerini newspaper said that the results of forensic tests on the bullet indicated that it had been fired directly at the teenager.

Athens Bar Association condemned the policeman's lawyer, Alexis Kougias, for "desecrating the dead" by claiming that the 15-year-old had been a troublemaker.

The claims "constitute a moral murder which fuel tensions", the association said.

Yesterday, heavy rain helped to curtail demonstrations compared to the intensity of recent days but still students and Left-wing activists again hurled petrol bombs and stones at police outside Greece's national parliament building in the seventh consecutive day of violence.

A group of around 80 students peacefully occupied a radio station in Athens, reading a statement over the air and playing music, as many Greeks expressed their frustration with the dire political and economic situation.

"It was one of the most intense protests we've had in Greece, but today it could be the last day. I'm afraid it will be forgotten, like everything has been in the past," said Fani Stathoulopoulou, 25. "Politicians didn't react as they should."

Greece's socialist opposition has stepped up calls for the prime minister to call new elections, amid the worst unrest Greece has seen since a military dictatorship ended in 1974.

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, whose conservative New Democracy party has a parliamentary majority of just one seat, said he had no intention of quitting.

"It's evident that we are undergoing a very serious financial crisis as well as a crisis in terms of what has been happening in the last few days and we therefore need a consistent, responsible government and a firm hand to guide the country," he said at an EU summit in Brussels.

"This is for me the priority and not any scenarios about early elections or a change in leadership."

As Mr Karamanlis spoke, about 5,000 protesters marched through Athens carrying banners saying: "The state kills" and "The government is guilty of murder".

Several schools and universities remained occupied by students and professors on one campus formed a human chain around the main university building to protect it from further damage.

 
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