Journalists hurt in clashes after retiree's suicide in Athens: police
ATHENS - Agence France-Presse
A protester throws a molotov cocktail at riots police in front of Greek Parliament during a demonstration in Athens on April 4, 2012. AFP photoAt least two journalists were rough-handled by riot police who broke up a protest in Athens that erupted after an elderly man fatally shot himself in an act of apparent debt despair, a police source said Thursday.
Police used tear gas to clear central Syntagma Square on Wednesday night after coming under attack by stone-throwing youths on the sidelines of a spontaneous anti-government protest held several hours after the 77-year-old man's shocking suicide.
About 1,000 people had poured into the area early in the afternoon, rallied by messages on social media.
They left flowers, candles and handwritten messages at the foot of a cypress tree where the man, a retired pharmacist, had shot himself. Some of the notes called for an "uprising of the people".
One of the journalists, who works for state television NET, said riot police had rough-handled media on the scene despite their efforts to identify themselves.
"I identified myself as a journalist but riot police shoved me away nonetheless," state television NET journalist George Gerafentis told the station's morning show.
"I fell from the sidewalk onto the street, but luckily I was not hurt," he said.
The square for two years has been the main rallying point for protests against austerity measures designed to haul Greece from its fiscal crisis.
Police said a suicide note had been found in the man's pocket, but did not disclose what it said.
News reports said the note accused the government of leaving the man in penury and compared the administration to the regime imposed by Greece's Nazi German occupiers in 1941.
Witnesses heard the man cry out that he did not want to leave his children in debt, according to media reports.