ND leaders claims violent crime rising; 2 high-profile incidents affect public opinion
A couple of well-publicized crime-related incidents generated the latest high-profile criticism by main opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Monday, who claimed that stranger-on-stranger violence has recently surged in the country.
Mitsotakis, a former minister who heads up the poll-leading center-right New Democracy (ND) party, referred to a home break-in overnight in the upscale northern Kifissia district, where a well-to-do 53-year-old homeowner was shot and severely injured by two masked robbers. The other incident that dominated much of the national limelight in Greece over the past week took place in the coastal Glyfada suburb, where an 88-year-old man fired a shotgun at another two home invaders, slightly injuring one of the two.
In the second incident, the elderly man was arrested – along with the two suspects – and charged with felony intent to commit bodily harm, among others. He was later released but may face a court trial.
In response to the second incident, the minister who holds the relevant public order portfolio, Nikos Toskas, warned that Greek citizens cannot take the law into their own hands, otherwise “we’ll become like the Far West”.
On Monday, Toskas, a retired career army officer who left socialist PASOK party to veer further left and emerge on the central political stage with SYRIZA party after the latter rode to power, also commented on the other homeowner’s shooting, merely saying society is “no paradise”. Both of his statements were vilified in much of the press and on social media.
“A problem with crime has always existed. Over the recent period, however, it has reached a boiling point … the government bears enormous responsibility,” Mitsotakis said.
The ND leader ticked off a short list of causes for what he claimed was the violent crime increase, chiefly pointing to a controversial law passed by the current leftist-rightist coalition government to alleviate prison overcrowding, with the former saying “hundreds of felons were released”.
Mitsotakis also pointed to the abolition of a quick response unit for urban areas comprised of motorcycle officers, and asserted that neighborhood patrols have been cut back. At the same time, he reiterated his party’s criticism, namely, that various self-described anti-state and antifa-like groups have been allowed to operate with impunity on central Athens’ streets and in university campuses.
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