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A solidarity campaign is underway in Greece to block the extradition to Italy of five students in regards to the events in Milan on the 1st May. This is a case that will have implications for international organising.

Early on November 12th, a general strike day, police arrested 5 students in northern Athens under a European Arrest Warrant. The 5 students are wanted by the Italian state for their participation in the NoExpo demonstrations in Milan on the 1st May 2015. The students now face the possibility of extradition to Italy to stand trial.

It is unclear what, if any, evidence there is against the students. They were in Milan that day and on the following day they were briefly detained and held but no charges were brought against them and they were released. It was only six months later that the Greek police received and carried out the orders to arrest them. Following their arrest the students were released on bail and a decision about their extradition is likely soon.

Immediately after the arrests a solidarity movement started and has been picking up pace and support. Since the students were an active part of local initiatives in their neighborhood of Ag.Paraskevi, the local assembly there protested the arrests and helped to secure their release on bail. A number of protests and gatherings have been held over the last days with the Italian embassy in Athens on the receiving end of paint and spray cans a few days ago. On the night of the 24th November a large crowd gathered outside the embassy and later marched around Athens’ Syntagma Sq in a strong show of support. More protests and actions are planned over the following days in order to build the solidarity movement to block the extradition.

It is believed that this is the first use of a European Arrest Warrant against demonstrators. The warrants were brought in as part of the ‘war on terror’ and were meant to speed up extradition for serious crimes between EU states. This current use of the warrants shows that anti-terror legislation, which of course is all the rage at the moment, is not in practice used against those who carry out massacres. This case is also a direct attack to international solidarity movements. There has recently been a number of discussions and initiatives aimed at creating greater practical solidarity across borders. The use of European Arrest Warrants aims to curtail such movements. As such the struggle to block the extradition of the five students is of importance to social movements everywhere.

More information in English, Greek and Italian can be found here.