ATHENS – Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Dec. 8 it set to meet the parents of jailed anarchist bank robber Nikos Romanos who is weakening from a hunger strike he went on to protest not being allowed to leave prison periodically to go to college.
Romanos, 21, hasn’t eaten in more than three weeks and is being hospitalized, and rejected a government proposal to let him and other inmates study in jail. He wants to attend Athens Technical College, where he was admitted after passing entrance exams. He said he doesn’t want his parents to meet with Samaras.
A bill allowing prison inmates the right to study by distance learning was submitted in Parliament by Justice Minister Haralambos Athanasiou and sparked fiery debate.
Addressing Parliament on Saturday, Athanasiou appealed to opposition MPs not to capitalize on the Romanos affair, saying “no one has the right to play with the life of a young person.”
Zoe Constantopoulou, a lawmaker from the major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) called on the judiciary to revoke a ruling that had denied Romanos the right to study on furloughs, saying the youth’s death would leave “an open wound in judicial history.”
Romanos, who spat anger and defiance when he was arrested, has been deemed a flight risk and authorities are reluctant to allow prison leaves after a notorious member of the November 17 terrorist group, Christodoulos Xiros, in January walked away from a Christmas vacation he was given despite serving six life sentences for his role in six assassinations, including five Americans.
On Dec. 6, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in Athens and other major cities to mark the sixth anniversary of the death of Alexandros Grigoropoulos, a friend of Romanos’s who was shot dead by a policeman in central Athens at the age of 15, setting off two weeks of the worst riots Greece had seen in years.
The rallies drew large crowds, and there were reports of violence, as thousands turned out to express solidarity with Romanos, who has the backing of SYRIZA, which has supporters of anarchist activities against the state it wants govern.
SYRIZA MP Yiannis Micheloyiannakis said he too would go on a hunger strike, both in support of Romanos and to show solidarity with Syrian refugees, some of whom aren’t eating, and who have been camped outside Parliament demanding asylum or the right to leave and be granted residence in other European Union countries.
Micheloyiannakis,, an outspoken lawmaker, said he’s also angry at ongoing austerity measures being imposed by the coalition government of Samaras’ New Democracy Conservatives and its partner the PASOK Socialists on orders of the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB).
“I have decided to go on hunger strike with the Syrians,” he said while blasting the government for “begging the Troika to accept [the measures] that they want to enforce” and for not responding to Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutolgu’s stated support for energy resources discovered off Cyprus being shared between the two communities on the divided island.
“Not as an MP but as a Greek citizen, I am unable to understand and to agree to all the above,” Micheloyiannakis said describing his laundry list of demands.
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