That fatal Saturday night, Alexis Grigoropoulos, aged 15, hangs out with some friends in Exarchia, a district in downtown Athens. Exarchia has been infamous for hosting far-leftists and anarchists groups, that often clash with the police in recent years. Tension between police and youth groups has been high.
Short before 9 p.m. two policemen, assigned to Special Guards category, engaged themselves in twos minor verbal incident with small group of teenagers. While the police operations centre orders the policemen to withdraw from the confrontation site, they do not comply, park their car some meters away and return to the spot on foot in order to confront the youngsters.
It is shortly after 9 p.m. that the one special guard, Epaminondas Korkoneas, pulls his gun and fires at Alexis Grigoropoulos. Straight to the heart. For no reason…. Cold blooded.
The victim Alexandros “Alexis” Grigoropoulos falls immediately on the ground with a shot in the heart.
The special guards just walk away (see video) and inform the operations centre they had been attacked.
Initially the police’s report claims that the special guard shot in response to an attack by the youths who were throwing stones and water bottles to the policemen. Police speaks of “deflection of the bullet”.
Yet eyewitness speaking to Greek media, report that the special guards were not attacked by the teenagers. Instead the special guards approached the group and verbally assaulted them in order to provoke them.
The special guard Korkoneas claims he fired three shots, two warning shots in the air and a third aimed on the ground. Several eyewitness said they beleived the policeman had targeted the teenagers directly.
Video and eyewitnesses dismiss police’ claims
A neighbor who shots a video of the assault, dismisses all the claims of the police. Within hours hundreds of angry youths gather in Athens downtown and trigger unprecedented riots.
Video from Grigoropoulos’ assassination (recorded Dec 6, 2008)
An eyewitness, who was standing on his balcony during the shooting , speaking to a documentary describes how the assassination occurred. In short he says, that the special guard fired twice targeting the boy. After the shot the special guards walked to their car and left the area in a wind’s speed. ” I heard people shouting They killed him, They killed him”, the eyewitness says and he rushed to the site. There he saw the boy on the ground and somebody trying to revive him with a heart massage. But there was no pulse, nothing. The boy had found instant dead.
Thrilling Video: Eyewitness (in Greek)
Within hours after the murder hundreds of angry youths gather in Athens downtown and trigger unprecedented riots. They set barricades, cars, garbage bins and shops on fire. They attack policemen. Authorities lose control of the situation. For days Athens is victim of chaos with police watching helpless and shops been looted.
Only last week, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, then interior minister told a documentary that the government was considering to use the armed forces to control the situation. But the idea was rejected as ‘contra productive’.
Video: The Riots/ raw material by Associated Press
Epaminondas Korkoneas, the special guard, gets a life sentence, two years after the fatal shooting.