Greek MPs warned of catastrophe as Athens erupts in violence

Monday, February 13, 2012
By Paul Martin

Rioters set buildings on fire as highly divisive austerity package is passed by parliament


Violence and looting engulfed central Athens last night as the Greek parliament passed a highly divisive austerity and debt-relief bill, which the government hopes will help save Greece from a disorderly bankruptcy and a potential exit from the eurozone.

Several buildings including a bank, a cinema and a café were set on fire in the worst riots for years, as looters smashed shops and protesters threw petrol bombs amid tear gas fired by police.

Angry demonstrators chanted “thieves, thieves” and heckled representatives outside the legislative assembly, but the mood was also explosive inside as lawmakers fiercely debated the bail out package.

One communist MP hurled the document including the second loan agreement at Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos, who exhorted lawmakers to approve the bill before markets opened this morning. “You’re fooling yourself if you think that you will lead the procedure to an impasse and will punish the troika and the IMF,” Venizelos said. “you’re only punishing the people and will lead it to a catastrophe.”

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