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Greek police on the alert for the national holiday parade

23 March 2012 / 16:03:27  GRReporter
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From today, police in Athens have been put on a high state of alert. The goal of enhanced security measures is the smooth carrying out of the students and military parades to celebrate the national holiday in Greece on Saturday and Sunday.

Stands for officials in the capital were installed in the middle of the week. However, many municipalities are considering the possibility of not installing them because of fears of public anger. The municipalities of Volos, Rhodes and Syros have already announced that there will be no stands for the parades there. Disabled veterans decided not to participate in the parade in protest and other groups will possibly announce such a decision on the day of the national holiday.

According to sources, the deployment of draconian security measures will start from Friday afternoon. At least 4,000 police officers will be on the lookout during the two days. They will have the right to make personal checks on all persons they find suspicious as well as to resort to preventive arrests.

The University of Athens is taking measures too. The aim is to prevent the Law School or other premises from becoming the headquarters of rioters, as happened on the night of 12 February, when there was serious damage to historic buildings in Athens. Other non-university organisations had sent requests as early as Thursday to be allowed to hold meetings at the School during the critical days. So, the dean’s office decided that the School remain closed from Friday to Monday.

There will be police presence in the area around Syntagma Square not only during the parades but also in the days and nights. One of the places that will be strictly guarded is the stand for the officials in order to prevent it from being damaged during the evening and night hours.

It is still under consideration whether the officials will take the route from the temple of Agios Dionysos Areopagitos to the stand, which is in front of the monument of the Unknown Soldier near the Parliament, on foot or by car.

It is planned for a prosecutor to be on duty too. Unnamed sources claim that there is an order for the immediate arrest of anyone trying to reach Amalias Avenue to get to the stand or to impede the proper conduct of the parade. For security reasons, only people who have received official invitations and accredited journalists will be opposite the stand.

Citizens will stay in Syntagma Square and in Othonos and George I streets ​​around it. Numerous police units, mostly members of riot forces, who will have to thwart any attempt by anyone to reach Amaliyas Avenue, will strictly guard these places.

Police and riot forces will be deployed all along the parade, who will take action if citizens attempt to head to the representatives of power. In these cases, the police are allowed to act at their own "discretion" to impose order and secure the carrying out of the parade. All police officers will be entitled to use their batons.

"The parades have to take place at all costs! None of the police officers will get on the stand. They will all guide the police forces. If anyone tries to break up the parade or to attack the officials, he will be rendered harmless by the closest riot force. Orders are given for the use of batons and tear gas in case of conflicts. In exceptional cases, there might be preventive arrests of suspicious persons. There will be zero tolerance."

These are the orders given by the police authority and the Ministry of Citizens' Protection to all police forces in the country in connection with the conduct of parades. "Our main task is to guard the conduct of at least 300 parades in Greece and to prevent emergencies. We have never faced a similar problem in the conduct of parades. This is a serious problem that we faced in making our plans."

There is also a specific plan for protection and evacuation of officials at the stands and in the surrounding area. Other special services such as the anti-terror service, the national security service and others will be on the alert too.

Tags: ParadeNational holidayAttacks on politiciansEnhanced security measuresPolice
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