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1,000 people serving life sentences in Greek prisons

07 September 2013 / 14:09:00  GRReporter
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There are more prisoners serving life sentences in Greece compared to all other European countries. Of 12,912 detainees in prisons, 1,000 are serving life sentences. In other European countries, there are usually several dozen prisoners with such sentences. For example, in the Netherlands, which has a population of 17 million, there are only 90 prisoners serving life sentences, while in Germany thre are 140. In other European countries, the number of life sentences is within the same ranges with the exception of Italy, where it amounts to 1,600, but Italy's population is five times higher than that of Greece. The imposition of life sentences and their use as an ultimate punishment for a number of crimes, mainly economic in recent years, has increased the number of prisoners dramatically.

The New Penal Code, which is expected to modernize the penal system that has been unaltered for 6 decades with the exception of some amendments, will be submitted to parliament for a vote and provides for the restriction of imposition of life sentences. The frequent imposition of a lifetime punishment has been bothering academics, judges and lawyers for years, who noted that the ultimate punishment should be considered only for very serious crimes, such as murder or robbery. They also stressed that, in fact, those sentenced to life imprisonment will remain in jail for a maximum of 15 years - and that fact also speaks in favour of the restriction of the imposition of the penalty.

There is an interesting provision in the new Penal Code, which provides for the limitation of the imposition of lifetime punishment, which will not be final in the future, instead the court will have the opportunity to sentence the prisoner to 15-20 years as an alternative.

It is also important to mention the rules, according to which sentences will vary from 5 to 15 years in prison for the most serious crimes (which were up to 20 years) and from 1 month to 5 years for not so serious crimes. Other provisions will repeal the additional punishment deprivation of civil rights, and only the ban on practicing a profession and custodial duties will remain in force.

In parallel, in an attempt to reduce the penalties for less serious offences, violent behaviour will be excluded from the category of serious crimes, while the imposition of administrative fines is provided for certain minor offences.

Another provision of the new Code will repeal the measure of conversion of penalties into monetary ones, something that has already led to a debate among lawyers. The list of extenuating circumstances - such as drug addiction, will be expanded.

The new Penal Code is the result of many years of work and will be submitted for discussion in the coming days.

Tags: Criminal Code life imprisonment minor offences serious crimes
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