The once-quiet neighborhood of Ano Petralona in Athens has been seized by gangsters who are running liquor joints until all hours, thumbing their nose at the police and threatening violence against residents who dare to complain, the newspaper Eleftherotypia reported. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has promised law and order, but resident said violators are doing what they want.
Ano Petralona is known for its few picturesque taverns, but lately the number of food and drink hangouts has increased dramatically, with tavern tables and bar stools taking up the pavements, and loud noise keeping locals awake at night.
Residents who voice their complaints often receive threats, while some of them have been victims of violent attacks. Three houses have been attacked with petrol bombs and a few residents have been beaten up by unknown hooded men in recent months, the newspaper said.
Many of the newly opened shops have been granted a cafe or confectionery licence, but in reality they serve food, play loud music and stay open until late at night, the locals say. Those who break the law often have their shops closed down by the municipality but an appeal to the prosecutor is enough to have the decision suspended and return to business.
The locals have set up a residents’ committee and are determined to take the matter to the city’s highest authority. According to the Chairman of the Athens municipality’s quality of life committee, Andreas Varelas, a meeting between the residents and Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis will soon take place to talk about the problem. There was no word on whether police are assisting residents.