Greece train tragedy protests: Police chief sacked following clashes between forces, demonstrators

The Greek government said on Saturday (March 18) that it has sacked its national police chief, following days of clashes between security forces and demonstrators in the wake of the February 28 train tragedy that killed 57 people. According to the Prime Minister’s office, police chief Constantinos Skoumas was sacked less than two months after being confirmed at the top post, the news agency AFP reported. 

“The appointment of a new police chief aims (to introduce) a more positive and efficient implementation of modern police operational plans on citizen safety, the office said.

No specific reason was given for this sacking, AFP reported. The development comes just two days after a riot police squad in Athens was filmed charging and striking peaceful protesters at the central Syntagma Square. Also, a police tow truck was filmed ramming a group of demonstrators trying to block an Athens street with garbage bins, sending one demonstrator flying to the ground.

On Thursday, thousands of workers walked off the job and rallied in central Athens at neglected safety standards they say led to the deadly train crash. According to a report by the news agency Reuters, flights to and from Greece were grounded, ships remained docked at ports, and public services and state schools were closed during the strike.

Apart from weeks of angry and occasionally violent protests, the February 28 tragedy has also piled pressure on the government ahead of the elections expected in May. 

“We will learn from our mistakes,” Mitsotakis said during a campaign stop in Athens on Saturday. 

Following the disaster, the country’s transport minister resigned. On the other hand, the stationmaster on duty during the accident and three other railway officials have been charged and face a possible life sentence.

Georgios Gerapetritis, the acting transport minister, earlier said that rail services, which were suspended after the accident, would gradually resume from March 22. However, Gerapetritis and former transport ministers would appeal before a parliamentary committee on Monday (March 20) to answer questions on the tragedy. 


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