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article imageAthens riots thugs threatened businesses pay or burn

By Katerina Nikolas     Feb 14, 2012 in World
Athens - Violence from protesters sums up what happened in the center of Athens on Sunday. However, reports are emerging that indicate business owners were threatened that if they did not pay protection money, their buildings would burn.
Rioting and arson that engulfed Sunday's protests in central Athens resulted in 170 destroyed businesses, 1.5 million euros worth of damage to public infrastructure and tens of millions of damage to property, according to Athens News.
Reports now emerging add a more sinister edge to the perceived impression of angry protests descending into chaos, and paint a picture that indicates it was more than just the usual thuggery from a small percentage of disenfranchised youth resorting to violence. According to the Greek Reporter the owner of the Asty Cinema, which was torched, "was warned by anarchists earlier they would torch his business unless he paid a huge sum in protection money." The underground of the cinema was used by the Gestapo in World War 11 as a torture chamber for partisans.
Antonis Samaras, leader of conservative Nea Democracy reacted to the destruction in central Athens by saying "These scum must know that when the time comes I will rip off their hoods." Police have now released details of 79 people arrested during Sunday's violence. The Athens News reports that 53 are Greek nationals and 26 foreign nationals. A further 92 people have now been detained, 68 Greeks and 24 foreigners.
Police are investigating the claims that business owners were threatened with extortion unless protection money was paid.
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