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Clashes and tear gas against a gold mine in Halkidiki

07 March 2013 / 16:03:24  GRReporter
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A police investigation of the terrorist act in the mines of Hellas Gold Ltd. near Skouries caused serious clashes between law enforcement forces and locals. After the police gathered genetic material, they arrested seven residents of the area, for whom there is strong evidence that they participated in the attack with Molotov cocktails against the mines. According to the official statement of the police, about 400 residents blocked the Gomati - Ierissos country road and did not allow the police forces and judicial authorities to search the homes of the detainees associated with the attack on 17 February this year. The protesters, who had gathered, burned tires and formed a human chain that blocked the way of the authorities.
"After repeated requests to leave the place, the residents continued to throw stones at policemen as a result of which two law enforcement officers were slightly injured. Eventually, the police were able to cross the blockade after limited use of chemicals," reads the official statement.

According to To Vima newspaper, the police used tear gas in the courtyard of the local secondary school too. Fanis Boulonis, principal of the secondary school, said that special riot forces (MAT) had come to arrest residents of the area. The citizens had gathered in front of the district police station, which is adjacent to the secondary school, to protest against the raid. The police began to disperse the protesters when the students were going out during the break. As a result, some of them were slightly suffocated and three women fainted as stated by Tolis Papageorgiou, who is a member of the union against the activities of the mining company Hellas Gold Ltd. "We immediately called an ambulance, which failed to reach the place easily, but school doctors were able to give first aid to the needy," said the principal.

The general police directorate refutes the use of tear gas in the region of the secondary school and stresses that it was used only in the region of the Gomati - Ierissos road. "We deny emphatically the use of chemicals to disperse the protesters near the secondary school or in private homes as stated by the complaints in the media."

Skouries’ former mayor Michalis Vlahopoulos told Skai TV that not all residents were against the investment of the company. The development of the mine employs 1,200 families in the area. Environmentalists and leftist organizations are against the development of the gold mines in Halkidiki, their main argument being that the processing activities pollute the region. The company and the government, in turn, are adamant that the investment project has been approved on the basis of detailed ecological studies, showing that the processing activities are not harmful to the environment.


Tags: Crime newsSocietySkouriesGold minesHalkidikiProtests
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