Officer guilty of boy's murder that sparked Greek riots

Undated photo of Alexandros Grigoropoulos
Witnesses said Alexandros Grigoropoulos was shot deliberately

A police officer in Greece has been found guilty of murdering a schoolboy during protests in 2008, in a case that sparked weeks of rioting.

A court in the town of Amfissa convicted Epaminondas Korkoneas, 38, of the culpable homicide of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos.

He was shot dead during anti-government protests on 6 December 2008 in the Athens neighbourhood of Exarchia.

Korkoneas is expected to be sentenced later on Monday.

Korkoneas's patrol partner, Vassilios Saraliotis, 32, was convicted of complicity.

The riots that followed the killing saw cars being set alight and shops looted in a number of cities. Hundreds of businesses in Athens were targeted and the second city of Thessaloniki also saw serious unrest.

Further rioting took place on the first anniversary.


The verdict from a panel of judges and jurors was 4-3 in favour of convicting Korkoneas of intentionally shooting Alexandros.

Anything other than a guilty verdict could have triggered a violent response from the country's youth, many of whom regard the police with suspicion, mistrust and outright hatred.

The outcome is a source of grim satisfaction for the family of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos, who had fully expected "The Rambo of Exarchia" to be convicted of murder.

Alexandros' mother, Gina Tsakilian, who runs a jewellery store in Athens, was highly distressed by attempts by Korkoneas' defence team to paint her son as a troublemaker and the verdict helps to restore his memory.

Two judges and one juror had backed a lesser verdict of manslaughter with possible intent.

Korkoneas now faces a possible life sentence.

The nine-month trial heard that Korkoneas had fired three shots.

His lawyer said these had been warning shots and cited an autopsy report indicating the boy had been hit by a ricocheting bullet.

However, witnesses and relatives testified that Korkoneas had deliberately taken aim and fired.

At the trial in January, Alexandros's mother, Tzina Tsalikian, said the two defendants were "monsters in the guise of men".

The trial was moved from Athens to Amfissa - a small town 200km (120 miles) west of the capital - to deter attacks by anarchist groups that had vowed to kill the two defendants.

Exarchia is a rebellious district, popular with self-styled anarchists, and there are frequent clashes with police.

The BBC's Malcolm Brabant in Athens says the chairman of the residents' association there, Manos Koufouglou, had told him he welcomed the verdict.

Vassilios Saraliotis and Epaminondas Korkoneas on trial in Amfissa, Greece
Saraliotis (left) and Korkoneas denied the charges

But Mr Koufouglou said that while tensions had eased, the people of Exarchia remained unhappy that the armed Special Guard unit to which Korkoneas belonged had not been disbanded.

"Police violence goes on," he told our correspondent. "The government has not done enough to reform the police.

"There will be a demonstration to mark the anniversary of the murder. We will not forget."


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