Demonstrators had gathered to protest the violation of the rights of the prisoner Dimitris Koufontinas when police forces surrounded them, using tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the gathering. After first preventing people from assembling as is their constitutional right, they then attempted to break up the demonstration with stun grenades and water cannons.
The right to assembly is enshrined in both the Greek Constitution (Article 11) and the European Convention on Human Rights (Article 11). Although the police have the legal authority to attend public gatherings and to disperse them for specific reasons such as a threat to public order, the measures they take must be proportionate. The indiscriminate use of violent means that threaten the life or physical integrity of citizens is illegal in a state that adheres to the rule of law.
In addition, the ability of police officers to use violence is governed by the same guarantees as in any other case, as reflected in the Code of Criminal Procedure (Article 256), Presidential Decree 141/1991 (Article 120), Presidential Decree254/2004 (Code of Police Ethics) and in the 2005 Circular issued by the Headquarters of the Hellenic Police Force.
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