A Greek court sentenced a policeman to life in prison for murdering a 15-year-old schoolboy in a shooting nearly two years ago that sparked rioting across the country.
Epaminondas Korkoneas, 38, was convicted of culpable homicide by a court in the town of Amfissa over the killing of Alexis Grigoropoulos during a December 2008 night patrol in the Athens district of Exarchia.
The panel of three judges and four jury also found Korkoneas’s patrol partner Vassilios Saraliotis, 32, guilty of complicity in the crime. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
The defence has pledged to appeal the sentences.
The December 2008 incident sparked days of rioting across Greece, with initial anger at the police compounded by the country’s worsening economic situation.
The trial was held under heavy police guard after a far-left extremist group threatened to kill Korkoneas, prompting authorities to relocate the trial from Athens to Amfissa, 200 kilometres northwest of capital.
Ten officers guarded the defendants for Monday’s ruling and a force of over 100 police was stationed around the streets of the small central Greek town.
The nine-month trial heard that Korkoneas fired three shots on December 6, 2008, in Exarchia, a district known in Athens as a hotspot for popular unrest.
Korkoneas’s lawyer, Alexis Kougias, argued that the incident was a tragic accident which arose as police fired warning shots to keep back youngsters who were hurling objects at them.
An autopsy report indicated that the boy was hit by a bullet that ricocheted on to him but lawyers for his family highlighted testimony of witnesses who say the policeman took aim and fired.
According to the Athens chamber of trade, around 500 businesses were damaged during the 10 days of protests that followed the boy’s shooting while there was also widespread destruction in the country’s second city, Thessaloniki.