After the increase in protests in Greece as a result of the serious train accident with 57 deaths, the national police chief has been dismissed. Konstantinos Skoumas had been relieved of his office, said the office of the Prime Minister on Saturday. A concrete reason was not mentioned, but because of their handling of the protests, criticism of the police had recently increased.
The appointment of a new police chief aims at a "more positive and efficient implementation of modern police deployment plans for the security of citizens," the statement said.
The clashes between security forces and demonstrators had recently increased. In the latest protests on Thursday, a riot police task force was filmed attacking and beating peaceful protesters in central Syntagma Square in Athens. In addition, footage showed a police tow truck ramming a group of protesters trying to set up roadblocks.
Spotlight on deficiencies in rail transport
In the accident on 28 February, a passenger train and a freight train approaching on the same track collided head-on on the railway line between Athens and Thessaloniki. 57 people died, including many students. The worst train accident in the country's history highlighted the chronic deficiencies in Greece's rail transport.
The public's anger over the train accident is directed not only against the railway and its employees, but also against the Greek government. According to critics, the accident is the result of years of austerity policies and mismanagement of the railways. Since the accident, there have been repeated protests with tens of thousands of participants and strikes.
The conservative government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis is coming under increasing pressure because of an upcoming parliamentary election. The election, originally scheduled for April, is expected to be postponed by a month.