The Kappa Marousi tragedy, Athens 1991

K Marousi burning

The tragedy of Kappa Marousi which burned down during a major protest march in Athens in 1991 leaving 4 people dead led the media to incriminate anarchists, although it was later proved the fire was caused by the police.

On the 9th of January 1991 in Patras, the 38 year old mathematics teacher and member of the Workers Anti-imperialist Front, Nikos Temboneras was murdered, by means of a metal bar cracking his head open, by Yannis Kalabokas, the local leader of the governing Conservative Party’s Youth (ONNED) and local councilor of the Conservatives. The murder took place during clashes between teachers and government thugs at the occupied 3rd High-school of Patras. At the time thousands of schools and universities were under occupation and teachers were leading a long strike that would see all schools and universities shut for many months against the ultra-right educational reform bill of Minister Kontoyannopoulos who resigned the day after the murder. (Let it be noted that the murderer was sentenced to life imprisonment but only served 3 years and is still today a leading political figure in the area).

The murder led to one of the most massive protest marches in the republican history of Greece, on the 10th of January 1991 during which violent clashes between protesters and the police erupted. During the clashes a fire that initially started at Livas Bookstore spread to K-Marousi, a building with shops and apartments. Despite efforts of the fire brigade, four men (one never to be identified) were found dead of suffocation in the building. During the following days, when battles continued to rage in the streets of Athens until the new Minister of Education announced the withdrawal of the bill, the media spread as a fact the opinion that the fire had started as a result of Molotov cocktails used by anarchists. The Special Administrative Investigation ordered indeed ruled that that was the case, despite many doubts by eye-witnesses at the time. It would take 6 years for the decision to be reversed and to accept the uncertainty of the case. Today all sober analysts accept that the fire was caused by rifle-shot tear gas canisters used by the riot police during the clashes.

The example of K-Marousi has featured today (6-5-2010) in many newspapers as a central argument against automatically putting the blame for the Marfin bank deaths on anarchists.

Comments

Steven.
May 7 2010 10:59

thanks for writing this up and posting it - very good timing, and very interesting for us over here. I had never heard of this incident before people started mentioning it in relation to the general strike

Ed
May 7 2010 18:46

Cheers for this taxikipali, your history stuff has been just as interesting as your news.. keep them coming!

taxikipali
May 8 2010 17:01

Cheers comrades, I thought the historical example could help in terms of contextualisation at the present situation.

Soapy
Dec 26 2012 08:10

Holy crap! This is such an important article. Thanks!