A 20-year-old Greek man has been arrested on suspicion of belonging to a gang of racists that mounted a string of attacks on Pakistani immigrants in Athens last year, the Associated Press reported. The arrest comes amid a crackdown on surging racist crime in recession-mired Greece, which is the European Union’s main entry point for illegal immigrants. The suspect was not identified.
A police statement said the suspect is believed to have taken part in three stabbings and one road attack — three of which were carried out within the space of one hour last September. In one of the assaults, a group of nine men burst into a Pakistani barber’s shop, stabbing a Pakistani employee and a Greek customer, and then tried to burn it down. The suspect faces charges including attempted murder, arson and robbery.
Human rights groups said attacks on immigrants have been increasing during a crushing economic crisis as they have been blamed, especially by the anti-immigrant neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, whose members have been accused of taking part in them, which they have denied.
The uneasy coalition government led by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has been conducting sweeps looking for illegal immigrants to deport, but has stepped up arrests of alleged attackers, although many police are said to be in sympathy with Golden Dawn.