NEWS

Hundreds of robbers to walk free under new penal code

YIANNIS SOULIOTIS

TAGS: Crime, Justice

There are concerns within the ranks of the Greek Police (ELAS) about the repercussions of the country’s newly approved penal code as hundreds of convicted robbers are expected to receive early release from prison from July 1 after the new regulations come into effect, Kathimerini understands.

The reformed penal code, which was voted into law earlier this month, introduces more lenient treatment for certain categories of offenders and reclassifies certain felonies as misdemeanors, while also increasing penalties for racist crimes and rape.

One of the provisions that is causing headaches among top-ranking ELAS officials is the revision of Article 374, which essentially transforms certain types of thefts and burglaries from a felony to a misdemeanor.

One significant change is that, under the new code, the only factor that elevates a theft from a misdemeanor to a felony is the size of the loot whereas the previous law also took into account the previous record of the alleged offenders.

But proving that the loot in a particular theft exceeded 120,000 euros – the minimum amount for the offense to be categorized as a felony – is no mean task, a police source told Kathimerini. “It is not enough to get a burglar’s fingerprint on, say, 100 houses for him to face criminal charges,” the police source said. “The police has to prove that the total loot is in excess of 120,000 euros. Otherwise, the suspect will be charged with a misdemeanor and will walk free the day after his arrest.”

Hundreds of such convicts – 300 in Attica alone – are expected to become eligible for release over the coming period. ELAS sources fear that the releases could spark a new wave of crime in the capital and beyond as some offenders may return to their old ways.

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