More than 1,100 unregistered migrants were arrested and another 4,900 brought in for questioning by police during the weekend in the context of a sweep operation code-named “Xenios Zeus” in the wider Athens area, the Attica Police General Directorate (GADA) announced yesterday.
Of those arrested, 1,130 did not meeting the legal conditions for residency in Greece, while 52 house searches were also conducted.
Citizens’ Protection minister Nikos Dendias told a press conference on Saturday that “today is a good day for Greek Police, regarding both the smooth development of the major ‘Xenios Zeus’ operation and the success in solving the “hideous crime on Paros, ” referring to a 21-year-old Pakistani national, who was taken in for questioning early Saturday after he confessed the brutal sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl, found seriously injured on July 23 on a beach on the island of Paros.
“There are no racial criteria, we do not care about the color, nationality or religion of the illegal immigrants. Our only criterion is the observance of legality with absolute respect to the human rights,” Dendias said.
SYRIZA expressed its disagreement to any kind of “pogroms” against migrants that “offend human nature and human rights,” referring to the police operation “Xenios Zeus” launched at the center of Athens.
“The government, in its final attempt to hide its real person behind grandiose expressions and trivial communication tricks, underestimates common sense and people’s intelligence, as well as what is left from our culture,” said MP Dimitris Tsoukalas, commenting the code name of the Police operation; he wondered if PASOK and Democratic Left are involved in this planning.
The operation is set to continue in central Athens on Monday in the environs of Omonoia Square, Monastiraki, Vathys Square and the Pedion tou Areos park vicinity, accoridng to ANA.
Greece is an entry point to about 80 percent of Europe’s illegal immigrants, and many Greeks are starting to resent their presence at a time of high unemployment and cuts in social services. To make matters worse, the capital, Athens, is experiencing a rise in violent crime — a problem that’s also being blamed on the immigrants.
On Wednesday police said they were tripling the number of guards along Greece’s border with Turkey to 1,800 to ward off any influx of Syrian refugees, AFP reported.
Current figures show Greece has about 800,000 legally-registered immigrants, while the number of those without papers is estimated at more than 350,000.