Sunday, February 12, 2012

Rioters Burn Buildings as Greek Parliament Votes

Bloomberg
February 12, 2012

Rioters set fire to buildings and battled police in downtown Athens as the Greek Parliament prepared to vote on Prime Minister Lucas Papademos’s austerity package to avert the nation’s collapse.

Ten fires were burning in central Athens including buildings housing a Starbucks Corp. (SBUX) cafe, a bank and a movie theater, a fire department spokesman said, speaking on the condition of anonymity in line with official policy. The blazes were near a bank that was set on fire in May 2010, killing three bank employees, during a general strike against Greece’s first bailout package.

“Today at midnight, before markets open, the Greek Parliament must send a message,” Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos told lawmakers in Athens today as the final debate on the accord to secure a 130 billion-euro ($171 billion) second aid package got under way. “We must show that Greeks, when they are called on to choose between the bad and the worst, choose the bad to avoid the worst.”

Demonstrators, rallying against austerity measures including job cuts, tore up marble in front of parliament that they hurled with fire-bombs at police guarding the chamber. Officers in riot gear responded with tear-gas and flash grenades. More than 50 officers were injured in the violence, police spokesman Takis Papapetropoulos said by telephone. The Greek Health Ministry said in an e-mailed statement that 54 people had been taken to hospital. Police said 25 rioters had been detained.

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