Thodoris Chondrogiannos 29 • 11 • 2023

Question of excessive police violence in the death of a 17-year-old Roma boy in Boeotia

Thodoris Chondrogiannos
Question of excessive police violence in the death of a 17-year-old Roma boy in Boeotia
29 • 11 • 2023

On 11 November 2023, a 17-year-old Roma boy was shot dead by a policeman in Boeotia. The policeman was suspended and criminal charges have already been brought against him for manslaughter with intent and the illegal execution of an incapacitating shot. The case raises a serious issue of excessive police violence, exceeding the limits set by Article 3 of Law No. 3169/2003 for the use of service weapons by police authorities.

A serious case of excessive police violence was raised by the death of 17-year-old Roma Christos Michalopoulos on 11 November 2023, caused by police gunfire after a chase in an area of Boeotia. This is the fourth time a citizen has been shot to death by police officers in recent years, following that of 18-year-old Nikos Sampanis in October 2021, 16-year-old Kostas Fragoulis in December 2022 and a 20-year-old Syrian refugee in July 2023.

According to press reports, on Saturday night, November 11, 17-year-old Christos Michalopoulos was driving a car with three other minors in it. The vehicle was moving at a very high speed in Aliarto, Boeotia, and the driver did not comply with police signals to stop. A chase ensued, culminating in the pursued car colliding with a parked vehicle. Police officers subsequently approached the car and shortly afterwards the 17-year-old driver was fatally shot. His death was confirmed after he was taken to the hospital in Thebes.

However, in this case, the Greek judiciary is now investigating whether the above legal framework for the use of weapons was applied or whether there was ultimately a breach of the limits of the law, which resulted in the death of Christos Michalopoulos.

In a statement on November 12, the Hellenic Police (ELAS) said that the circumstances of the shooting that led to the death of the 17-year-old were “under investigation”. In a later statement on November 15, the ELAS announced that the police officer who shot the 17-year-old had been suspended, while according to press reports, he is being prosecuted for manslaughter with intent with possible malice and the illegal execution of a neutralising shot. According to Kathimerini, the accused claims that his gun went off after the young man tried to take it away from him, a claim that the victim’s family and their lawyer reject as false. After his plea to the investigating magistrate, the accused was released with restrictions.

Where is the problem with the rule of law?

Under the rule of law, law enforcement and police authorities must comply with the limits set by law on the use of the weapons they carry in the performance of their duties. Such rules are provided for in Greece by Article 3 of Law no. 3169/2003 (FEK A’ 189/24.7.2003).

However, in the present case, a policeman used his service weapon unlawfully, which led to the death of 17-year-old Christos. 

Thodoris Chondrogiannos
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