Greek leftist party sues Germany's Bild for libel

AFP , Thursday 8 Mar 2012

German paper sued by Greek leftist party after party leader is portrayed as 'half-criminal' who supports 'violent anarchists'

A Greek leftist party on Thursday said it had sued Germany's Bild newspaper for a million euros ($1.3 million) over "insulting" references made in a recent article on the country's upcoming elections.

The Syriza Party said the German tabloid had portrayed its leader Alexis Tsipras as a "half-criminal" who "openly supports violent anarchists" and is suspected of "financing" gangs that burned down 40 homes in a recent Athens riot.

The Bild article on 16 February was headlined "Will these radicals soon be governing Greece?" referring to the uncertain outcome of early elections tentatively scheduled for next month.

The main socialist and conservative parties, currently in a power-sharing coalition applying unpopular reforms, have both lost much of their strength while smaller parties critical of austerity cuts are expected to pick up votes.

Tsipras, a 37-year-old engineer, is the youngest of Greece's political leaders.

Syriza, which currently has nine deputies in the 300-seat parliament, strongly opposes the EU-IMF bailout signed by Greece in 2010 in return for an economic overhaul that has drastically slashed salaries and pensions.

Syriza is expected to win around 10 per cent of the vote in the elections, a result that could bolster its parliamentary strength to 30 deputies.

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