ATHENS — A police officer was convicted of murder and sentenced yesterday to life imprisonment for the shooting of a teenager in central Athens that sparked nationwide riots in 2008.
In a 4-to-3 verdict, a panel of judges and jurors found Epaminondas Korkoneas guilty of intentionally shooting 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos on Dec. 6, 2008, in the central Athens district of Exarchia, an area of bars and cafes popular with self-styled anarchists.
A second police officer, Vassilis Saraliotis, was convicted of complicity and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Both are expected to appeal.
Grigoropoulos’s death led to the worst civil unrest Greece had seen in decades, with youths rampaging through cities almost nightly for two weeks, torching cars and buildings, smashing windows, looting stores, and clashing with riot police.
The dead youth’s mother, Gina Tsalikian, speaking outside the court in central Greece, welcomed the verdict.
“I feel completely vindicated by the court’s decision that was the result of a painful procedure for me during which light was shed on many aspects of this crime,’’ she said. “What was proven is that a cold blooded murder was carried out for no reason against an innocent 15-year-old boy, Alexis Grigoropoulos — my son.’’
Two of the three judges and one of the four jurors voted yesterday for Korkoneas to be found guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter with possible intent, which would have carried a lighter sentence.
Korkoneas had insisted the boy was killed inadvertently by a ricochet when the policeman fired a warning shot following an altercation with youths during a night patrol in Exarchia.
The trial was held in Amfissa, about 120 miles west of Athens, because of fears the proceedings could lead to more rioting.