Greek police arrest four for attacking Thessaloniki mayor Yiannis Boutaris

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Yesderday, Greek police charged four suspects for participating in mob violence against Thessaloniki's city mayor Yiannis Boutaris. The 75-year-old mayor was attacked on Saturday at a commemoration of victims of the Pontic Genocide.

According to police, three suspects were male — aged from seventeen to twenty — of Greek nationality and the fourth suspect was a mid-30s Georgian of Greek origin. Boutaris was reportedly told by persons in the crowd to leave the annual commemoration for the victims killed in a massacre during World War I by Turks as well as during the Greek-Turkish war. The mob was then seen kicking the mayor and throwing stones and bottles. The mayor was taken off the scene by his asides. Boutaris was later hospitalised, reportedly sustaining head, leg, and back injuries.

Describing the mayor's assailants as "far-right bullies", Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said they would "have to face the consequences". Both ruling party Syriza as well as main opposition party New Democracy condemned the attack. Syriza called the violence a "fascist attempt to target and intimidate" Boutaris. New Democracy said officials should arrest the attackers "immediately".

Boutaris, who was reportedly at the hospital overnight, said in remarks to the Greek Reporter news organization, "It was a nightmare[...] There were several people that attacked me. They were hitting me everywhere." The mayor called it a "despicable attack".

Boutaris has favoured multiculturalism, supporting the construction of a mosque in Thessaloniki, and construction of monuments in honour of Turkish leaders. Boutaris had also supported policies that were LGBT+-friendly.

The three adults arrested — all but the seventeen-year-old — are to be tried on Wednesday.