Row after Greek police allegedly abuse far-left suspects

Greece's conservative-led government on Monday rejected allegations of police abuse against four far-left suspects who were apprehended after a botched bank robbery.

But the police department, which rights groups often accuse of heavy-handed tactics, was later forced to admit it had edited pictures of the suspects "to assist identification."

The row began after the suspects' parents and lawyers complained that police had beaten the youths as they were arrested and later during interrogation.

The suspects' faces showed fewer injuries in pictures released by police to the public than in television footage aired soon after their arrest.

Authorities countered that the heavily armed suspects, aged 20-25, had sustained the injuries whilst resisting arrest.

"These are heavily armed terrorists who had carried out a robbery," Citizen's Protection Minister Nikos Dendias told private TV Mega.

Dendias admitted the suspects' pictures had been edited and claimed this was done to help police.

"It was done to reflect the normal look of (the suspects) so that people can identify them," he said.

The minister pledged to punish any officers found responsible of abuse.

Two of the youths are suspected of having ties to Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei, a radical anarchist group that sent parcel bombs to European leaders and embassies and carried out arson and bomb attacks.

The youngest of the four, Nikos Romanos, is a former companion of slain youth Alexis Grigoropoulos, whose fatal shooting by police in 2008 sparked major youth riots around the country.

Romanos was an eyewitness to Grigoropoulos' death but later refused to testify in court.

The suspects were arrested Friday after allegedly holding up two banks near the northwestern town of Kozani and briefly taking a man hostage.

Police confiscated two AK-47 assault rifles, a Scorpion submachine gun and two handguns.

Several members of the Conspiracy group are behind bars.

But authorities suspect other members still at large could be behind recent arson attacks against journalists, a mall bombing and a strafing attack against the headquarters of the conservative New Democracy party, which heads Greece's ruling coalition.