President, minister call for stricter rules for terrorism convicts

Greek President Karolos Papoulias and Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias on Tuesday stressed the need for stricter procedures regarding prisoners' privileges just hours after a convicted terrorist violated the terms of his furlough and is considered by authorities as being at large.

Dendias visited Papoulias at the Presidential Mansion in order to brief the president on the progress of an ongoing investigation into an attack on the residence of German Ambassador to Athens Wolfgang Dold, which was riddled with bullets from an AK-47 assault rifle on December 30.

The Greek Police (ELAS) is examining evidence from the scene of the attack amid speculation that it may be linked to Nikos Maziotis, a convicted terrorist who also escaped custody in the summer of 2012 while on furlough.

The briefing came on the same day that Christodoulos Xeros, a member of terrorist group November 17 who is serving six consecutive life sentences over as many assassinations, also skipped a compulsory visit to a local police precinct in Halkidiki, northern Greece, while on leave from prison.

The two incidents have raised concerns regarding the judicial procedures for people convicted of terrorist acts and prompted calls for stricter terms to their incarceration.

"The Greek Police has led dozens of terrorists to justice in the past few years,» Dendias said. «Unfortunately, I must say, a number of them are free right now. And today we had this very unfortunate incident with a convicted terrorist who was on leave,» he added.

Papoulias reiterated his concerns, adding that «the terrorists' bullets are actually aimed at the unemployed» and calling for measures to combat domestic terrorism.

Leaving the meeting, Dendias told reporters that Xeros's leave was granted by a council that had deemed he was not a flight risk nor posed a danger to society.

"The terms of release or furlough are a matter of the law,» Dendias said.