Watered-down prison bill ready for Parliament

A controversial government bill aimed at building “type C” maximum-security cells at Domokos Prison in central Greece is to go to Parliament for debate on Thursday after being watered down following objections by junior coalition partner PASOK and by inmates serving long sentences.

Among the key concessions made by the Justice Ministry is the reduction of the minimum time that convicted terrorists must serve in the type C cells, to five years from 10. According to the bill, prisoners staying in such cells will be deprived of the right to furloughs and will have restricted rights to visits.

The overhauled Domokos Prison is expected to open later this month and will be able to accommodate a total of 600 inmates. Around 150 inmates from other jails are to be transferred to Domokos in the first phase, according to sources.

The prisoners to be held at Domokos are to include those serving terms of more than 12 years for high treason or terrorism, those serving sentences of more than 10 years for organized crime and those who have been implicated in serious disciplinary offenses while in prison such as violent escape attempts, organized uprisings and violent attacks against prison guards or fellow inmates.

Some 3,000 inmates across the country have been on hunger strike for the past week to protest the prison bill while guards have threatened industrial action over understaffing at Greek penitentiaries.