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UPD Police’s 4-day long detention of underage student and felony charges trigger outrage

A 14-year-old student has been in custody at the Police headquarters since last Thursday and is to appear in court on Monday. The boy is charged with felony for a crime that has not been clear, so far. He was participating in the students’ protest in downtown Athens.

In an unprecedented  demonstration of  authoritarianism, police has not allowed him to see his parents or allowed them to provide him with clean clothes and food.  The underage “criminal” ould only meet with his lawyer.

Two more 14-year-old and two 17-year-old students are also in custody since last week for misdemeanor charges.

Note that temporary detention is prohibited for children under 15 years old.

Speaking to Mega TV on Monday morning, his mother said that police accuses him of having thrown a molotov cocktail bomb. “He was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” the mother said stressing that he was not involved in any violent action.

The detention has triggered an outrage on social media, there is currently a solidarity protest by students and teachers outside the Court.

Protest banner: Hands off struggling students.

Police sources told media that the student was not allowed to see his parents “due to protection measures against the coronavirus.”

On social media posts it has been denounced that many police officers in the headquarters did not wear even a mask.

Citing police sources, state broadcaster ERT said Monday noon that the “14-year-old was in a group throwing molotov fire bombs and stones at riot police squads.”

Both the Municipality of Halandri, suburb of northern Athens, and the Parents’ Associations of Students of the high-school the boy attends, have condemned the police behavior.

In a statement the Parents’ Association said that the student  B.G. from the 7th High School of Halandri “was arrested for a crime, completely unnecessarily, the moment he was leaving a restaurant in Syntagma Square, and is being held for four whole days, without having the right to communicate with his family, although he is underage! His arrest is part of a general plan to terrorize students who are fighting for a better education, for a better life.”

The student was recently elected as general secretary of the 15-member Coordination Committee in his school.

Expressing full solidarity with student Vangelis, the Municipality of Halandri said that the boy was arrested while he was leaving a restaurant and the Police who conducted physical examination twice found nothing suspicious.”

The statement speaks of “unacceptable punitive logic of authoritarianism, violence and arbitrariness against minors students,” and calls on authorities to release and acquite the student of any charges so that he can continue his life and  attend school, otherwise there will be “serious consequences in the later life of a minor child.”

Together with students from several schools, members of the Halandri Municipality and the Parents’ Association have joined the protest outside the Court on Monday morning.

For a change, police allowed the mother to have a very brief conversation with the 14-year-old student.

UPDATE: After testimonies to the interrogator, the 14-year-old and the other underage detainees were released, one of them with “restrictive but very mild terms.” However, charges were not dropped, a date for the trial is still to be set.

According to information, when the case file is completed it will be up to a judiciary council to decide whether there will be a trial or the charges will be dropped.

Like in other students’ protests in autumn 2020, demonstrators demand effective measures against the pandemic with small classes, more hiring of teachers and cleaning staff.

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