Twenty-one Halkidiki residents found innocent of violence during 2012 municipal meeting on mining

Twenty-one residents of northeastern Halkidiki who opposed mining activity in the area and had been accused of participating in violent clashes during a stormy municipal council meeting at Aristotelis in March 2012, were found innocent of all charges on Thursday by a court in Thessaloniki.

The defendants were facing serious charges, including of causing an explosion, construction, supply and possession of explosives, as well as instigation in the two previous actions.

“It is sad that a local society is divided and brought to court to find justice. It is desirable for the local leaders to work towards easing tensions in the region,” the presiding judge said before announcing the ruling.

Earlier, the prosecutor had proposed exempting defendants from all charges, noting that “no crime was committed”.

The case was brought to court after a lawsuit filed by the then Aristotelis mayor Christos Pahtas. In their pleas, the defendants denied any involvement in the clashes and some claimed the lawsuit was an attempt to criminalize their struggles against mining activity in the region.