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The Greek prisoners drama continues

13 November 2008 / 14:11:27  GRReporter
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Conditions in Greek prisons continue to be dramatic. For a second week, the prisoners continue their hunger strike. Last night the number of starving prisoners reached to 5850. As numerously wrote, they protest against the overcrowded prisons, the violence by the staff in them, and the horrible hygiene conditions. The strike has been backed up by many rights protective organizations, among which are the Greek Attorney Union and Amnesty International.   


The strikers refuse not only to eat but to drink water as well, which can have many harmful consequences on their health. It is a known secret that around half of the prisoners use drugs and the sudden refusal to eat, can be a big shock for their bodies. The first 5 strikers who got hurt were driven to the hospital yesterday. Their desperation is so big, that women from the Trikala and Amfisa prisons have stitched up their mouths, so they cannot receive food.


The prisoners protest against the overcrowded prisons, which take up to 7500 people, and now there are over 13 000 in them. This causes the hygiene to drop so much, that the rights protecting organizations characterized it as diminishing for the human dignity. Among their requests, there are – ability to pay off the punishment, if it’s up to 5 years, to lower the minimum term, after which they can be released, improvement of the prisons doctor facilities. Justice minister Sotiris Hatzidakis has already taken the responsibility to put a bill until the end of the week, according to which the convicted for up to 5 years will be released after serving 1/5 of their time, and the ones convicted for drug trafficking will be released after serving 3/5 of their time. The minimum term for preliminary arrest will be lowered from 18 to 12 months. Those measures will lead to the release of 1500 prisoners.


Right now there are 160 Bulgarian prisoners in Greek prisons. The most common charges are for people trafficking and thefts, around 20 are convicted for drug distribution. After Bulgaria joined the EU, it became possible for the prisoners to be transferred to Bulgaria. For bTV the Bulgarian consul in Athens said that this year, 15 Bulgarian prisoners were transferred to Bulgarian prisons, including people with life sentences. If a prisoner wants to be transferred to a Bulgarian prison, he/she needs to apply for it in the Bulgarian or Greek Justice ministry. Both institutions look into the case and decide whether and when to transfer him/her.

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