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Greece to deport nine European nationals over pro-Palestinian protest

May 20, 2024 at 2:12 pm

University of Athens students stage a protest in support of Palestinians, calling for an end to Gaza war in Athens, Greece on May 13, 2024. [Costas Baltas – Anadolu Agency]

Nine protesters from Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Spain are set to be deported from Greece after being arrested during a pro-Palestinian demonstration at the University of Athens School of Law last week, their lawyers said on Monday.

Police last week detained a total of 28 Greek and foreign protesters occupying the building, Reuters has reported. The charges include disrupting the operation of a public entity and assistance in damaging foreign property, according to court documents. The protesters have denied any wrongdoing.

Evidence included leaflets, Palestinian flags, two smoke flares, gas masks, helmets, paint cans and banner poles, along with a statement uploaded on a website in Greek and English urging others to join the protest.

The Greek protesters were released pending trial on 28 May, but the nine foreign nationals — one man and eight women, aged 22 to 33 — were held in custody pending an administrative decision on their deportation.

The foreigners’ lawyers said that deportation orders had been issued, which would prevent the defendants attending their own trial. Lawyers Ioanna Sioupouli and Anny Paparoussou said that their clients, who live and work in Greece, planned to appeal. Lawyer Vassilis Papadopoulos, representing a 33-year-old Spaniard, called the decision “arbitrary and illegal”.

Pro-Palestinian supporters have staged several protests in Greece since Israel launched its military offensive in Gaza, ostensibly against Hamas, last October.

Greece scrapped legislation in 2019 that prohibited police from entering universities, as the conservative government said it was used as a cover for lawlessness. The Academic Sanctuary Law, a legacy of the crackdown on a 1973 student revolt by the military junta of the time, was designed to protect protesting students and freedom of ideas. Critics decried its abolition as a clampdown on democracy.

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