Residents of Ierissos, a village in northern Greece, accuse police of illegally breaking down doors and violently entering the homes of two locals and arresting them over their alleged involvement in a February arson attack at the nearby gold mine installations. Police, however, said they had arrest warrants and only used force to enter the homes when residents refused to let them in.
The arrests at 3am on Wednesday spurred angry residents to attack a local police station. Police said no officers were in the police station at the time of the attack.
Locals fiercely oppose plans to develop the mine by Vancouver, Canada-based Eldorado Gold Corp. and argue that the venture will harm the economy in Greece's northern Halkidiki peninsula which relies heavily on farming and tourism.
The two people arrested by police are scheduled to meet with the public prosecutor. According to their lawyer, the 3am arrests were unjustified.
The opposition to Eldorado Gold Corp. (ELD)’s $500 million project to develop the site is visible from the heavy equipment that has been torched and the barbed wire fence that now cordons the mountaintop site. A February 20 attack caused extensive damage. Some 40 masked intruders broke into the gold mine and torched machinery and vehicles being used to construct the open pit mine.
Residents have reported that the police made extensive use of teargas in Ierissos, firing it in front of a school while it was in operation. A number of children were affected by the gas, a former mayor for the area said. Michalis Vlachopoulos also told Skai TV that one student suffered a head injury.
Appearing on the same television station, a police spokesperson denied that teargas was fired into the school and said that it was used only to remove a blockade that residents had erected at the entrance of the village to prevent riot police from entering.
He said the riot were police sent to assist colleagues who were carrying out a preliminary investigation into the arson attack.