Police raid of another two ‘squats’ in Exarchia district

19 April 2019
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One arrest out of 70 people taken into preliminary custody was the result of the latest high-profile police raid at two building “squats” in the Exarchia district, ostensibly part of the relevant public order ministry’s “get tough” policy against petty street crime and alleged organized crime networks operating from the specific neighborhood.

The raid comes some two weeks after a detail of coast guard officers, accompanied by a prosecutor, were accosted by armed gunmen, initially posing as law enforcement, when they attempted to serve an arrest warrant against two women who had taken shelter at another Exarchia-district squat.

On Thursday, two women, an Italian and French national, respectively, were taken into custody at the first squat, on Zoodohou Pigis street. In the second instance, 68 foreign nationals were taken into custody, with most declaring their country of origin as Syria, Afghanistan, Algeria and Morocco.

No information was provided in the second case on how many of those detained are legally in the country or whether they entered illegally and then filed for asylum.

In her latest statement, the deputy public order minister, Katerina Papakosta, again emphasized that the Exarchia district is not considered as “off-limits” to law enforcement and the rule of law.

Papakosta, an “old guard” conservative lawmaker expelled from main opposition New Democracy (ND) party, is among this year’s “strange bedfellows” political “recruits” by the current Tsipras government in order to buttress its slim Parliament majority.

She raised eyebrows last week when comparing Exarchia to Paris’ chic Montmartre. The former is a congested and mostly nondescript inner city neighborhood close to the Athens Polytechnic, the National Archaeological Museum and law school, but one often marred by street violence by so-called anti-state and self-styled anarchist groups. Conversely, a vibrant nightclub scene, bookstores, non-mainstream art galleries and IT shops are characterize the district.

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