Explosion damages Athens court facility

Explosion damages Athens court facility

ATHENS - The Associated Press
Explosion damages Athens court facility

A powerful explosion damaged a court complex in central Athens early on Dec. 22, hours after Parliament voted to crackdown on anti-bailout protesters who gather regularly at the building.

Police said the blast occurred before dawn, following warning telephone calls to the offices of a daily newspaper and news website.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. It occurred hours after the parliament approved measures to impose penalties against demonstrators who gather regularly at the court to try and disrupt weekly auctions of foreclosed homes.

The auctions have put pressure on Greece’s left-wing government, which has abandoned tougher protection measures for distressed mortgage holders as part of negotiations with bailout lenders.

After years of recession and financial crisis, roughly half of loans in Greece are considered non-performing - the highest level in the European Union.

Police cordoned off streets around the court in a heavily guarded area of the city, close to the Greek police headquarters, as officers in white coveralls gathered evidence.

Police spokesman Theodoros Chronopoulos said a court security guard reported seeing two men, presumed to be the attackers, leave a bag outside the entrance of the court.

“This type of attacks usually has a symbolic significance,” he told state-run television, without commenting further on the possible motives of the attack.