Greek authorities failed to properly investigate an attack on members of an ethnic-Macedonian party and must pay the party Ђ32,000 (US$38,000) in damages, the European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday.
Several members of the Ouranio Toxo party in the northwestern Greek town of Florina, which borders Macedonia and defends the interests of the Macedonian minority in Greece, were assaulted in September 1995 at the instigation of the town council and local priests. They were protesting the party's decision to affix a sign in Macedonian to the balcony of its headquarters.
A crowd of people attacked party members at its headquarters and set furniture on fire after police removed the sign and the party installed a replacement.
The police did not stop the mob, and the public prosecutor took no action against those involved in the incident, the Strasbourg, France-based human rights court said.
Greece's relations with Macedonia are strained over continued failure to resolve a name dispute between the two countries.
Greece has opposed its northern neighbor's use of the name Macedonia since the tiny Balkan state gained independence in 1991, arguing it implies territorial aspirations over Greece's northern region, also called Macedonia. A.M.