Trees are part of a communist plot to undermine our way of life says Athens mayor, Nikitas Kaklamanis
The move to bulldoze one of the last remaining parks in the Kypseli district of central Athens sparked off clashes between local residents and Greek riot police. Yesterday's decision by Athens mayor, Nikitas Kaklamanis to order the cutting down of 45 trees to start work on the construction of a car park led to day long confrontations and the use of flash grenades and tear gas by the authorities (see here for video from the tvxs.gr independent news agency).
The sudden start of construction was, according to Greek media sources designed to forstall any possible injunction by Athens courts over the controversial project. Despite having less green spaces than any other European capital the city of Athens sent in contractors to start clearing the area despite questions over the legality of the work . As a result the forestry commission of the Attiki district, which includes the Greek capital yesterday sued the city of Athens over the destruction of the park.
Athens mayor, Nikitis Kaklamnais, speaking to Skai TV station claimed that only three trees had been cut down and that the other 40 were being transplanted. However, eye witness accounts and pictures taking by local residents seems to cast doubt on the mayor's claims.
Yesterday evening protesters planted 45 sapling to replace the pine trees cut down during the day. Work resumed early this morning however, stopped after two hours amidst protests. Unconfirmed reports talk of the presence of members of Greece's ultra-right Chrysi Aygi party taking part in clashes with protesters early this morning, resulting in three residents including local council member, Kostas Lagos pressing charges after being assaulted.
Local residents have vowed to guard the site and prevent building work from continuing.