Greece fires police chief after protests over train crash
ATHENS: Greece said on Saturday it had sacked its national police chief days after clashes broke out between security forces and protesters following the country’s deadliest train tragedy.
The prime minister’s office said police chief Constantinos Skoumas was fired less than two months after he was confirmed in the post.
No specific reason was given for the change as the police have faced widespread public criticism for their handling of protests over the February 28 tragedy that killed 57 people when two trains collided.
“The appointment of a new police chief aims to achieve a more positive and efficient implementation of modern police action plans for citizen safety,” said the prime minister’s office.
During the latest protests on Thursday, a riot police squad was filmed attacking and beating peaceful protesters in Athens’ central Syntagma Square.
A police tow truck was also filmed ramming a group of protesters trying to block an Athens street with rubbish bins, knocking one protester to the ground.
The train wreck has sparked weeks of angry and occasionally violent protests and put great pressure on the conservative government of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis ahead of elections expected in May.
Most of the victims were students returning from a long holiday weekend.
“We will learn from our mistakes,” Mitsotakis said at a campaign stop in Athens on Saturday.
“A mistake only becomes a mistake when it is repeated.”
Greece’s transport minister resigned after the disaster, and the station master on duty during the accident and three other railway officials were charged and faced a possible life sentence.
But rail unions had long warned of problems, claiming the network was underfunded, understaffed and accident-prone after a decade of spending cuts.
Acting Transport Minister Georgios Gerapetritis said rail services, which had been suspended after the accident, will gradually resume from March 22.
But safety concerns remain high.
Gerapetritis and former transport ministers will appear before a parliamentary committee on March 20 to answer lawmakers’ questions about the tragedy.
The minister said on Saturday he would then travel to Brussels later in the week to talk to EU officials about “technical assistance” to improve security.
Train services will be fully restored before April 16 and the government aims to roll out automated safety systems by the end of September, he said.
Source: Crypto News Deutsch