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Polite arrests and handcuffs as a last resort for tax frauds

23 September 2014 / 18:09:12  GRReporter
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Deputy prosecutor of the Supreme Court Nikos Pantelis has ordered the conditions under which the authorities will detain persons having debts to the treasury.

The prosecutor’s order was issued in connection with a lawyer's protest against the attitude towards an 80-year-old debtor. He appeared, by his own wish, to the authorities to officially hear him or to sentence him under the fast-track procedure but despite his protests, the police handcuffed him.

In the order in question that has been sent to the prosecutors in the courts of first instance and the courts of appeal, to financial prosecutors and also to the Greek police, Nikos Pantelis notifies the competent authorities that the policemen will have to use handcuffs only when the detainees may escape or resist.

In addition, the senior deputy prosecutor states that the arrests under the fast-track procedure must be carried out taking into account the protection of personal freedom, and only in the presence of serious causes for them.

Referring to the relevant regulations, he notes that the detention in these cases must be interpreted taking into account that the protection of personal freedom is most important by law (Article 6 of the Constitution of Greece), and depriving someone of it should be an exception.

Nikos Pantelis reminds the police authorities that they should treat each arrest with due respect, use force only when necessary and avoid statements that undermine the dignity of the detainee.

The deputy prosecutor of the Supreme Court further emphasizes that, in practice, the relevant authorities often inform the debtors to the treasury of their tax obligations and provide them with sufficient time to settle their affairs. However, it is clear that no conditions require or justify handcuffing those who are unable to do so or whose cases cannot be settled in another way, and they voluntarily appear at the police station to be sentenced under the fast-track procedure.

Nikos Pantelis repeats the positions stipulated in the previous order of 2011 regarding the rational use of the fast-track procedure in cases of tax evasion of large amounts, adding that the judicial proceedings and judgments in these violations are not an end in itself but a means to achieve the fiscal targets of the state.

Furthermore, the deputy prosecutor states that the three-year implementation of law 3.3943/2011 has made it clear that in the majority of the cases of non-payment of debts to the treasury the fast-track procedure is being subsequently cancelled because, due to the threat of arrest, the persons notified of their outstanding financial debts rush to settle them. As stated by the deputy prosecutor, however, the problem is that, having paid one or two instalments, the debtors stop paying their debt, thus again becoming incorrect debtors to the treasury.

Tags: DebtorsTreasuryDeputy prosecutorSupreme CourtArrestsTax frauds
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