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The Bible says “Blessed are they that mourn for they will be comforted,” but I do not know how blessed some children feel in knowing that the day they made their way into the world, was the same day their father was brutally murdered.
Filled with dreams of capturing his child’s birth on camera, Manolis Kantaris set out early Tuesday morning to bring his car around and take his pregnant wife to the hospital for the proud occasion. Armed with only a 350 euro camera, and his wife’s maternity bag, this 44 year old pharmaceutical worker exited his house on Epiru Street and headed towards the Ioulianou street parking lot in downtown Athens, where his car was stationed, only to be fatally attacked by three assailants. He suffered at least three fatal stab wounds in the back, hands and neck as he tried to escape.
Meanwhile, his wife and mother-in-law, who were waiting patiently for him, decided to make their way to the parking lot to see what was holding him up and suffered extreme shock when they discovered the body. Witnesses immediately called for emergency services and an ambulance carried him to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
Following the news, police launched a massive manhunt across the centre of Athens to identify and apprehend the perpetrators. According to reports, the perpetrators, still to be arrested, were three dark-skinned men, possibly foreign nationals.
Even police officials that have faced hundreds of incidences such as the above were shocked and horrified when they viewed the attack on surveillance tape.
Later on that day, Simona Virgili gave birth to a baby girl.
Commenting on the incident, Parliamentary MP and member of the main opposition New Democracy party, Ms. Fotini Pipili said in a statement later on that the tragic murder should constitute as a pillar for change by the central government and all adjoining governing institutions.
Ms. Pipili then called on the government to take drastic measures in order to eradicate this sudden rise in crime and noted that all Athenians, especially nationals, require (and demand) to feel safe and protected in their city. For this, she proposed that officials immediately work towards:
1. Tracking down and dismantling the criminal gangs currently centered and operating around Omonia Square.
2. Eradicating the rings of illegal prostitution, most of which include illegal nationals as well as minors -calculated at 5000-, in the areas of Triti Septemvriou, Acharnon, Patision and Plateia Vathis.
3. Immediately find other facilities and re-locate the Centers of Rehabilitation and Prevention of Drug Abuse (OAKANA), which are currently located on Theatrou Square, Kapodistriou Street, Triti Septemvriou, Eressou and Averoff, (areas of which embrace the Omonia Square area) in the framework of preventing patients, abusers and offenders to not co-exist.
4. Increase police patrol
Tension prevailed later on in the evening in the area of Epiru Street, near the point where the 44 year-old man was stabbed. Hundreds of residents, and onlookers, held a protest march complaining about the high crime rate, which later turned violent. There were clashes with foreign illegal immigrants and the police had to intervene. Several arrests were made.
After hearing the news, I can only say that no one is immune. The elderly stay home at night, women have been issued warnings not to exit their homes after dark and it is only common sense that items of high value not be visible when roaming this area.
As a society we must “do something” to develop a new intolerance of crime and violence and I agree with Ms. Pipili about taking immediate action. Greek citizens need to “wake up and take the bull by the horns” or lose their freedom to crime and violence. It is time tear up our “no radio” signs and reclaim our dignity.
To fear taking a walk in your own city, or to fear going to the parking lot where your car is stationed reminds me of the Bronx in New York, Spanish Harlem, or some areas in Chicago. What is worse, becoming a victim of crime is losing a fair measure of freedom in a democratic society and, my premise is that we have gotten far too accustomed to, and accepting of, crime and violence in this city. Enough is enough.
To his family and especially to his new baby girl, I can only say may each new day, ease the burden of your sorrow.
May he rest in peace