2 Greek Cops Held Over Teen's Death

A rioter throws a stone at police near the Parliament building in central Athens, Dec. 10, 2008.
AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis
A court has ordered two policemen to be held in jail pending trial for a teenager's fatal shooting, which has sparked five days of rioting in Greek cities.

One officer has been charged with murder for allegedly shooting dead 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos. The other has been charged as an accomplice to murder. No trial date has been set.

A defense lawyer says the fatal bullet ricocheted off a wall before striking the schoolboy in the heart.

Earlier Wednesday, protesters attacked Athens' main courthouse with firebombs during a hearing for the two officers. Riot police fired tear gas. At least two people were hurt.

Meanwhile, police clashed with demonstrators outside Parliament Wednesday as a general strike paralyzed Greece, shutting down schools, hospitals and international flights and raising pressure on a fragile government reeling from four days of riots.

The rioting and demonstrations were set off by anger at the shooting but fed by months of widespread discontent with the conservative government of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, whose party holds a majority of a single seat in the 300-member parliament.

More than 10,000 people marched through the center of the city to protest the conservative government's economic policies. Riot police began firing tear gas when a small group of youths threw Molotov cocktails and rocks at them near Parliament in the center of the Greek capital.

Flights to and from Athens International Airport were canceled, and public hospitals across Greece were operating with a skeleton staff. Schools and universities were closed.

Karamanlis has faced growing opposition over changes to the country's pension system, privatization and the loosening of state control of higher education, which many students oppose because they feel it will undermine their degrees.

The government's support has dropped lower as gangs of youths maraud through cities across the country, torching businesses, looting shops and setting up burning barricades across streets.

Storeowners accuse riot police of leaving their businesses unprotected as rioters smashed and burned their way through popular shopping districts. Although police have fired volley after volley of tear gas when attacked by rock- and Molotov cocktail-throwing protesters, they held back when youths turned against buildings and cars.