Two Greek police officers accused in the shooting death [JURIST news archive] of 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos [BBC report], which sparked violent demonstrations and riots in 2008, were found guilty Monday and sentenced to prison. A panel of judges and jurors found Officer Epameinonta Korkonea guilty of intentional murder [Ta Nea report, in Greek] and sentenced him to a term of life imprisonment plus 15 months. Officer Basil Saralioti was convicted of the lesser charge of complicity and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Throughout the nine-month trial, both officers contended they did not intend to kill [BBC report] Grigoropoulos and that a stray bullet struck him after Korkonea fired a warning shot. Reports indicated that Grigoropoulos and other youth were throwing stones at a police car and that the police believed he was throwing explosives. Both officers are expected to appeal the verdicts.
The shooting death has been a source of civil unrest in Greece since 2008. Last year, Greek police [official website, in Greek] conducted raids [JURIST report] in Athens in an effort to avoid a repeat of violent protests on the anniversary of the controversial police shooting. More than 6,000 officers spread across the city, arresting more than 150 people for throwing rocks or vandalism. In March 2009, Amnesty International [advocacy website] said that Greek authorities were not doing enough to ensure that the nation's police respect human rights [JURIST report] and urged the government to investigate and address "long-standing problems of policing." Earlier that month, the Greek government said that it would revamp its police force [JURIST report] in light of the riots. The Greek police have been accused of being both ineffective and unnecessarily violent [JURIST op-ed] in their response to the protests.