Greek National Police chief dismissed after Tempi derailment riots

Protests in Greece against Tempi derailment – Eurokinissi / Zuma Press / Contactophoto

The head of Greece’s National Police, Constantinos Skoumas, has been relieved of his post following strong protests across the country over the derailment earlier this month of a train in the central municipality of Tempi, which left at least 57 people dead.

His replacement will be Lazaros Mavropoulos, the National Council for National Security (KYSEA) announced Saturday. The new appointment »aims to improve and implement in a more positive and effective way the modern operational plans of the Hellenic Police for the safety of citizens,» the institution said in a statement reported by the daily ‘Kathimerini’ in its online edition.

In an open letter published in the Greek media after learning of his dismissal, Skoumas regretted the »abrupt termination» of his mandate and denounced the resentment that his decisions have caused in »certain centers of power».

»I leave with dignity and a clear conscience and I submit myself to the judgment of all the facts, which will be clarified», he added in a statement reported by »Protothema».

Despite the harshness of the clashes with the demonstrators, the Greek police have come out badly from their response to the protests, after riot forces were filmed while charging peaceful groups of demonstrators in Syntagma Square and a police vehicle hit a group of people who were trying to block a street.

The protests following the derailment have increased pressure on the country’s prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, ahead of elections in May.

Precisely this Saturday the leader has intoned a ‘mea culpa’ for the police response to the protests. We will recognize our mistakes with courage, we will assume the responsibilities assigned to us,» he said in statements reported by Skai.