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Greece: Three jailed pending trial for attack over COVID-19 virus checks

Court authorities in the northern Greek town of Katerini late Monday jailed three people pending trial over an attack on a high school principal by vigilantes opposing virus restrictions.

Another eight suspects were released on condition that they present themselves regularly at a local police station, keep at least 400 meters (yards) away from schools and don't leave the country.

The attack occurred Friday near Katerini, some 70 kilometers (43 miles) southwest of Thessaloniki. Police said a group of people grabbed and handcuffed the 61-year-old principal ahead of a daily COVID-19 entry check of students at the school and forced him into a car. They drove him to a precinct where they invited police to charge him with ostensibly breaching constitutional freedoms.

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Instead, police detained the suspected vigilantes. No trial date was set.

The suspects — nine men and two women — face criminal abduction charges, and lesser accusations including assault, disrupting the functioning of a school, using insulting language and breaking health regulations.

Greece has managed to tame a recent spike in infections with new restrictions on unvaccinated people, although daily COVID-19 death figures remain high. Roughly a quarter of the adult population remains unvaccinated, and the government recently announced an inoculation mandate for people aged over 60.

Vigilante groups have recently appeared in the northern city of Thessaloniki and nearby towns, one calling themselves The Custodians and wearing black uniforms, arguing that the restrictions are illegal and should be opposed by those defending the constitution.

The government has vowed to crack down on the groups, and on gangs that sell counterfeit vaccination certificates.

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