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16-year-old Roma boy shot dead by Greek police
31 • 12 • 2022

On December 5, 2022, a 16-year-old Roma boy left a petrol station in Thessaloniki without paying the 20 euros he owed for fuel. Immediately, four policemen began to pursue him. During the chase, one policeman fired his weapon twice. One of the bullets hit the minor in the head, killing him.

At dawn on December 5, 2022, Kostas Fragoulis, a minor who was ethnically Roma, fled a petrol station in Thessaloniki without paying for fuel worth 20 euros. The petrol station alerted the police, who immediately came to the scene and gave chase.

The phenomenon of excessive police violence and arbitrariness is referred to in this report as a long-standing problem, as well as the demonstration or tolerance of racist behavior towards vulnerable groups, such as the Roma. Moreover, a recent report from the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) finds that a large percentage of Roma face systematic social exclusion because of their ethnic origin (see also 1, 2).

The 2021 death of Nikos Sampanis, another young Roma who was killed in similar circumstances, should also be noted here.  Following a chase, policemen indiscriminately fired 36 bullets into the vehicle he was riding in. Social exclusion combined with “xenophobic and racist attitudes” may have contributed to the killings of both young Roma men.

Where is the problem with the rule of law?

In a state governed by the rule of law, the actions of the police authorities must be governed by certain principles, including the principle of legality, the principle of proportionality, the prohibition of abuse of police power, and the respect for and protection of human rights, without discrimination on the basis of ethnic/racial origin.

The powers of the police authorities and the conduct to be displayed in the exercise of their duties are regulated, inter alia, by Decree 141/1991 and Decree 254/2004.

The case of Kostas Fragoulis, like that of Nikos Sampanis, raises issues around the disproportionate (excessive) use of armed force by the police, as well as possible racist motivation (see Article 82 A of the Criminal Code) based on the ethnic origin of the (Roma) victims.

Arbitrary and excessive police violence are reprehensible phenomena in a democracy and must be dealt with, as well as racial profiling.

Concerns around the rule of law are heightened when such phenomena are observed systematically.

Nefeli Lappa
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