Greece: Roma teenager shot during police chase dies



THESSALONIKI, Greece — A teenager from Greece’s Roma community who was shot in the head during a police chase over an allegedly unpaid gas station bill has died, the hospital that was treating him and members of the Roma community said Tuesday.

The 16-year-old had been hospitalized for more than a week in the northern city of Thessaloniki after he was shot in the early hours of Dec. 5 by a police officer on a motorbike involved in a chase after the teenager allegedly filled up his pickup truck at a gas station and left without paying the 20 euro ($21) bill.

The shooting led to days of often violent protests in Thessaloniki, Athens and other parts of Greece by members of the Roma community, despite pleas by community officials and some members of the teenager’s family to maintain calm.

“Everyone here is crying. It is unjust for a child to leave like this,” said Antonis Tasios, secretary of the Roma community where the teenager lived, confirming his death. “We have great pain.”

The hospital treating the youth, who has not been formally identified, said the 16-year-old had been hospitalized in critical condition in the intensive care unit after undergoing emergency surgery, but that despite all efforts by medical staff, he died on Tuesday morning.

The 34-year-old police officer accused of firing the shot has been suspended and has been under house arrest since Friday pending a court decision on whether to remand him into custody pending trial on a felony count of attempted manslaughter with possible intent and a misdemeanor count of illegally firing his weapon.

Police have said the teenager had tried to ram the police motorbikes involved in the chase with his pickup truck, and the officer said during an initial court appearance last week that he had fired his weapon because he feared for the lives of his colleagues.

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