Greece is investigating reports of police brutality prompted by amateur video circulating on social media which showed officers beating a man in an Athens suburb after they were called out to check if lockdown rules were being respected.
The incident caught on camera on Sunday evening, which was condemned by opposition parties, sparked clashes on Monday between police and dozens of people protesting against police violence in the southern suburb of Nea Smyrni.
Police fired teargas and flash bombs to disperse the crowds.
An internal police probe has been ordered into the case while a prosecutor has also launched a preliminary investigation, Citizen Protection Minister Michalis Chrysohoidis said in a statement.
“Senseless violence cannot be justified. We are adamant about that,” Chrysohoidis said, referring to the clashes with the police.
There were contradictory reports on the circumstances of the incident.
A police statement said a group of officers, checking whether social distancing rules were being observed, was attacked by a crowd of about 30. At least 11 people were temporarily detained.
Witnesses said some people were protesting against the imposition of a fine and that police used unreasonably excessive force.
“The boy was on the floor as they were beating him up. They could have just hand-cuffed him, why were they beating him? I’m furious,” a woman who did not disclose her name told state TV.
Greece has been struggling for over a year with the pandemic, imposing and lifting restrictions on movement to help protect its fragile economy and a health system battered by a decade-long financial crisis.
There have been sporadic protests but they have been nowhere near the scale of the clashes during the debt crisis when tens of thousands of demonstrators battled police and authorities were accused of failing to curb police brutality.