April 1, 2015 / 2:08 PM / 3 years ago

Greek anti-establishment protesters occupy buildings, enter parliament grounds

ATHENS (Reuters) - Anti-establishment protesters occupied several public buildings in Greece and briefly entered the grounds of parliament in Athens on Wednesday, calling for the release of jailed members of a Marxist group.

A pensioner holds a banner during an anti-austerity demonstration in Athens April 1, 2015. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

Around 20 people entered the courtyard of the parliament building in central Syntagma square.

“They managed to pass the police in the entrance and they approached one of the main gates of the building, the one that lawmakers and the ministers use to enter the parliament,” a parliamentary official told Reuters, saying they left after about five minutes.

They scattered flyers and chanted slogans including for the immediate release of “Xiros”.

Savas Xiros is serving multiple life terms for his role in the November 17 group, which killed Greek, U.S. and British diplomats before being dismantled in 2002.

Self-proclaimed anarchists are calling for the release of detainees including the seriously ill Savas. His brother, Christodoulos, was recaptured in January after absconding while on leave from prison where he was serving time for being part of the same now defunct guerrilla group.

Protesters also called for the end to high security prisons, which the new Syriza government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has vowed to scrap.

Small groups took over Syriza offices in the southern town of Patras, the office of a governing lawmaker in the Cretan capital Heraklion as well as the town hall in a suburb of Athens, a police official said.

Protesters also occupied part of a university in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second city, and have been occupying the offices of one of Athens’ main universities since Monday.

Greece has a history of anti-establishment leftist politics with frequent skirmishes between police and youths, often throwing rocks.

Protesters are also planning to gather in Athens later for a motorcycle rally to the Justice Ministry to press for the release of prisoners including some from November 17.

Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas and Angeliki Koutantou; Writing by Costas Pitas; Editing by Alison Williams

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