Greek Government Wants to Arrest Protesters in 'Hoodies'

Greece's government said Wednesday it wants to give police the power to arrest demonstrators who wear hoods or masks.

The goal would be to reduce public violence that followed major riots late last year, the government said.

Justice Ministry officials said the draft legislation would be submitted to parliament in the next few weeks.

Greece was rocked by riots in December following the fatal shooting by police of a 15-year-old boy.

Since then, violence by anarchist groups and attacks by far-left militants have generated a debate on policing and privacy rules in a country traditionally tolerant of public demonstrations.

But attacks by local anarchist groups on government property and other targets considered symbols of capitalism have become increasingly common in Athens.

The central Athens office of a conservative lawmaker was targeted in an arson attack, damaging the entrance but causing no injuries, police said late Wednesday.

The lawmaker, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, is the son of a former conservative prime minister and brother of Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis.

On Friday, anarchist youths wearing hoods and wielding axes and sledgehammers attacked an upscale Athens shopping area, damaging more than 60 stores.

"What happened on Friday was the last straw. This cannot continue any longer," conservative parliamentary spokesman Panos Panayiotopoulos said Wednesday. "It must end now. This means something has to be done: measures must be taken and those measures have to be effective."

Opposition parties criticized the proposal as an attempt to distract public attention from inadequate policing.

"For goodness sake, do you really think this kind of measure will solve the problem?" senior Socialist official Evangelos Venizelos told parliament.

The government has promised to reorganize parts of the police force, with help from London police, following the December riots.

Many conservative lawmakers are calling for a review of a ban on police entering university campuses — where rioters often take refuge — and broad restrictions regarding the use of surveillance cameras.