Rioters Stun Ejekt Festival

Ejekt Festival promoter Giannis Paltoglou says local police and the fire department could have done more to stop a riot that left one security guard stabbed to death and two more in comas.

Police and fire eventually turned up three hours after they were first called to the June 16th event just outside Athens, but several people, including Underworld’s Rick Smith, had already been hospitalized.

Paltoglou said the trouble began at about 9:15 p.m. when a gang of 30 masked anarchists turned up with knives, iron bars, baseball bats and Molotov cocktails.

The security guards at the gate stopped them from entering the site but they forced their way in within 30 minutes and began running riot among the 10,000-strong crowd. They burned cars, looted the bars and merchandise stalls and hurled rocks at the backstage area.

Smith, who was waiting to perform, was injured when a rock smashed through the act’s dressing room window and hit him on the side of the head.

He was one of many taken to an Athens hospital but has since sufficiently recovered and returned to the U.K.

Paltoglou said the first call to the police was made within 15 minutes of the gang arriving and a swifter response could have averted most of the chaos.

The Greek police don’t attend festivals as a matter of course because their presence is likely to spark trouble among the crowd.

Acts including Madness and Beastie Boys did perform but the event was stopped when the gang closed in on the backstage area and tried to smash the PA, the LED screens and the dressing rooms.

Police arrived an hour after midnight but the festival site at the Olympic park at Hellinicon was already littered with debris and the wrecks of seven burned-out cars.

Paltoglou said he was disappointed by the police delay because two of their own patrol cars had been torched as the gang made its way to the site. Two banks were set alight as the gang made its way back to Athens.

It hasn’t been possible to get comment from Athens police, although an investigation into who caused the riot has been under way for more than a week.