Criminals lodged on campus

May 1, 1998

ACCUSATIONS that the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki has become a criminal base for guns and drugs trafficking are being investigated by the local district attorney.

The investigation was launched following media reports that criminal groups were carrying out illegal activities under cover of the right of asylum the university offers.

Michael Papadopoulos, university president, has received details of alleged theft, pimping, prostitution, drugs and gun trafficking at the university, the largest in the country.

The authorities want to know why the cases were not immediately reported and steps taken to lift the restrictions of the asylum so that police could be free to enter.

The last senate meeting, which was to discuss the issue, was disrupted by students protesting at any move to withdraw the right to asylum, claiming that it would be a new restriction on their academic freedom.

The president and some lecturers and professors admitted that criminal activities were jeopardising both the university's image and the privilege of academic asylum.

"A number of people unconnected with the university have invaded the place and do not hesitate to use drugs in front of teachers and students while on several occasions used syringes have blocked drains," Mr Papadopoulos said.

He added: "We have also had reports of gun sales, prostitution and the appearance of strangers at the amphitheatres using threatening behaviour towards the students."

He said the subject would be discussed as a matter of course at the next meeting of the senate and the authorities will be fully informed.

"We must not allow this university to become an asylum for criminals at any cost," he concluded.

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