THESSALONIKI, GREECE (AP) – A Greek police officer accused of shooting and seriously wounding a Roma teenager during a police chase over an allegedly unpaid gas station bill will remain under house arrest, after a prosecutor and an investigating judge disagreed yesterday on whether he should be jailed until his trial.
About 200 protesters from the Roma community were gathered outside the courthouse in Greece’s second-largest city of Thessaloniki yesterday, where the 34-year-old officer appeared amid tight security.
The officer has been charged with a felony count of attempted manslaughter with possible intent, and a misdemeanour count of illegally firing his weapon over the Monday shooting, which has left the 16-year-old hospitalised in critical condition with a head wound.
Police have said the teenager tried to ram a police motorcycle involved in the chase, and the officer has said he fired his weapon because he believed his colleagues’ lives were in danger.
The prosecutor handling the case recommended the officer be remanded in custody until the trial, and the investigating judge who questioned the officer in court yesterday recommended he be released on bail.
Until a panel of judges resolves the disagreement, the officer will be placed under house arrest. The prosecutor has three days to make another recommendation to the panel, and a decision could come as early as next week.
Security was tight at the courthouse for the hearing, with riot police forming a cordon and the police officer surrounded by dozens of his colleagues as he arrived for questioning.
Friends and relatives of the injured 16-year-old and other protesters from the Roma community gathered outside the courthouse, holding up photos of the youth and calling for justice. The shooting already sparked days of violent protests by members of the Roma community in Greece’s second-largest city, as well as Athens and other areas, with vehicles and at least one business torched and police coming under fire from shotguns.
“It wasn’t the gas, it wasn’t the money, the cops shot because he was Roma,” the protesters chanted outside the courthouse before the decision on the officer’s house arrest was made public.
Some burned EUR20 notes – the amount the teenager allegedly failed to pay at the gas station.