Riot policemen run through a cloud of teargas to avoid an exploding petrol bomb during clashes with youths in central Athens. Police fired teargas at dozens of youths hurling stones in central Athens on Wednesday as a strike against an EU/IMF prescribed austerity brought much of Greece to a halt during talks on the next slice of a bailout package.
Riot policemen run through a cloud of teargas to avoid an exploding petrol bomb during clashes with youths in central Athens. Police fired teargas at dozens of youths hurling stones in central Athens on Wednesday as a strike against an EU/IMF prescribed austerity brought much of Greece to a halt during talks on the next slice of a bailout package.

Clashes erupt in Greece amid IMF inspection

By Renee Maltezou And Ingrid Melander Time of article published May 12, 2011

Share this article:

Athens - About 150 hooded demonstrators attacked three policemen in an Athens hospital after a protester was seriously injured in an anti-austerity march on the first day of a visit by EU and IMF inspectors.

Police had fired several rounds of teargas earlier on Wednesday to disperse stone-throwing protesters as senior EU and IMF envoys began talks with the government on stepping up fiscal reforms needed to get the next slice of a bailout package.

“The hooded youths broke into the hospital manager's office and beat up three policemen who were there investigating the protester's injuries,” said a policeman who declined to be named. “Two policemen were slightly injured and one suffered more serious injuries to the head.”

The 31-year-old Greek protester, named Ioannis Kafkas, was in a stable but critical condition after undergoing brain surgery, the Health Ministry said earlier on Wednesday.

Senior European Union and International Monetary Fund inspectors met Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou at the start of the visit just metres away from the protest march organised against wage cuts and tax hikes which unions say are strangling the economy.

Police said 17 demonstrators and two policemen were hurt in the clashes while 24 people were detained as a one-day nationwide strike brought much of Greece to a halt.

The EU/IMF visit will decide whether Greece will get a fifth tranche of aid from the 110 billion euro bailout that saved it from bankruptcy last year. Without the next 12 billion euro tranche, the key to paying 13.7 billion euros of immediate funding needs, Greece would effectively default.

The IMF and EU officials will also consider giving Athens improved loan terms or more aid to avoid restructuring its huge debt. Investors say a restructuring, imposing losses on private bondholders, is inevitable without more funds.

Euro zone officials including German Chancellor Angela Merkel say they will wait for the result of the inspection visit before taking any decisions.

Police said about 20 000 protesters - fewer than previous protests - marched to parliament. Greece has a history of protests that can turn violent. In December 2008, Athens was paralysed for weeks by riots triggered by the police killing of a teenager and fuelled by anger at economic hardships. - Reuters

Share this article: