A bill drafted by the Justice Ministry and due to be submitted to Parliament in the coming days foresees the creation of a new section of the Athens Appeals Court which will be committed to trying major criminal cases such as those relating to defense contract kickbacks and other instances of public sector corruption as well as terrorism and the pending case against the neofascist Golden Dawn.
According to sources, the initiative is a bid by Justice Minister Haralambos Athanasiou to ensure that criminal charges leveled against prominent suspects such as state officials do not expire under the statute of limitations due to the slow-moving Greek justice system. Another goal is to ensure that sensitive cases, such as the case against Golden Dawn MPs, go to trial before the maximum 18-month period of pretrial detention expires.
Judges appointed to deal with such cases will be obliged to work for the special criminal court for a minimum of two years with the possibility of their term being extended by another year.
The same bill includes an amendment allowing the immediate release from prison of all those serving sentences of up to five years for misdemeanors. Based on new provisions, those receiving terms of less than five years will be able to pay off their time.