ATHENS – Greece vowed to crack down on crime among holidaymakers at its coastal resorts on Thursday, after a young Australian man was left brain dead by a beating from nightclub workers on the island of Mykonos.
Tourism Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos launched a special committee to clean up the vital tourism sector after the attack in the early hours of Tuesday morning on the 20-year-old Australian, identified by police as Doujon Zammit from Sydney.
Police have detained four men after Zammit was beaten with a metal bar outside the club near the resort of Mykonos town.
“As people, as citizens, as Greeks, we mourn the loss of a life,” Spiliotopoulos said in a statement. “And as we talk about Greece’s image abroad, it is logical that these isolated incidents sadden us even more.”
Tourism accounts for nearly a fifth of the economy in Greece, which is visited by 15 million tourists a year. Many of its coastal resorts have become notorious for the violent or indecent activities of drunken young holidaymakers.
The minister said much of this behaviour was due to profit-hungry bar owners supplying tourists with drinks fortified with industrial alcohol. Too many bars also employed security guards, he said.
“We must tackle these issues and this is what this committee is here for, to handle a crisis,” he said.
Greece’s opposition Socialist party said the government was not giving police the resources to handle the annual deluge of tourists. “Why isn’t the government doing anything to reinforce public order and citizens’ safety?” it asked in a statement.
Oliver Zammit, the father of the Australian tourist, thanked the Greek people for their cooperation and support.
“The doctors have said he is brain dead,” a tearful Zammit told reporters outside an Athens hospital. “Maybe tomorrow we will have to turn off the life support and just take him home.” Two of the men arrested have been charged with actual bodily harm and another with grievous bodily harm, according to police officials. A fourth suspect has been charged both with grievous bodily harm and possession of an illegal weapon.
This man, a 25-year-old car park attendant, told police he had chased Zammit because he believed he had stolen a handbag.
The attack followed the arrest last week of a 20-year-old British woman on the island of Crete, charged with strangling to death her newborn baby in a hotel room.A few days later, a 17-year-old Briton died of intoxication outside a Zakynthos bar.
Britain’s Foreign Office said it received 48 reports of rape of Britons in Greece last year, most of them allegedly perpetrated by fellow Britons. Last year, residents of Malia staged a march against British tourists.