Trial over Marfin Bank deaths in violent 2010 Athens protest to start Monday

A court in Athens is due on Monday to start hearing the case against a man accused of causing the death of three bank employees during a violent anti-austerity protest in the city center in May 2010.

Theodoros Sipsas, 34, is accused of firebombing a branch of Marfin Bank on central Stadiou Street during a protest rally that spiraled into widespread violence, leading to the death by asphyxiation of three employees in the flaming building. Another two suspects who have not been identified are also implicated in the attack.

The trial – six years after the violence that erupted in the wake of Greece’s signing of its first bailout deal with international creditors, and following numerous delays and postponements – is expected to be fraught, as it will be attended by relatives of the victims: 32-year-old Angeliki Papathanasopoulou, who was pregnant at the time of her death, Paraskevi Zoulia, 35, and Epameinondas Tsakalis, 36.

The three bank workers became trapped in the building after it was engulfed in flames, as rescue crews were prevented from approaching the location by protesters who had blocked the street and were throwing projectiles and firebombs at emergency response units.

The indictment claims that Sipsas and his accomplices were acting with deadly intent when they – knowing that people were still inside the bank – smashed the ground-floor window, doused the area with flammable liquid and launched Molotov cocktails into the interior.

Sipsas, who was granted conditional release after his arrest, has denied the charges, saying that he is being targeted by authorities for his political views.

The CEO of Marfin Bank, the lender’s head of security and the manager of the Stadiou Street branch were convicted in 2013 for failing to take the requisite safety measures. None of the convicts have served time in prison as they have appealed the rulings.

Monday’s trial also concerns the case against Pavlos Andreyev, 34, who stands accused of firebombing the Ianos bookstore during the same protest rally. Another three unknown suspects are implicated in that attack.

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