NEWS

Tougher sentences for sexual offenses

Changes to penal code seek to protect vulnerable groups, victims of gender-based violence

tougher-sentences-for-sexual-offenses

Far stricter penalties are envisioned in the changes proposed to the penal code by the Justice Ministry, which seek, in particular, to protect vulnerable groups, minors and victims of abuse and gender-based violence.

Addressing a cabinet meeting Monday that discussed the new legal framework, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis referred to “significant changes,” while also noting that penalties are also “becoming heavier for a number of environmental crimes, such as forest fires.”

The contention of the government is that the proposed framework reflects the social reality and is a response to the fears, concerns and demands of citizens. 

Kathimerini understands that among the most significant changes is the extension of the statute of limitations for sexual offenses, and even misdemeanors, against minors.

For misdemeanors the statute of limitations will start when the victim turns 19 years old, i.e. one year after coming of age. For felonies it will start at 21, or three years after coming of age under Greek law.

In practical terms, this means that there is much more time for victims to file a complaint and that the offense is not statute-barred.

The new changes also foresee that sexual offenses against minors will be prosecuted by default, regardless of whether a complaint is filed or not.

What’s more, the new code takes way the right of prisoners convicted of serious crimes to serve their sentences under house arrest, wearing an ankle tracker.

The act of incest again becomes a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. It had been turned into a misdemeanor in the new penal code introduced by the previous government in 2019.

Moreover, felons must serve at least four-fifths of their prison sentences if they are convicted for offenses such as drug trafficking, membership of a criminal organization, terrorist acts, robbery, extortion or any form of rape.

Those who receive life sentences must serve at least 18 years instead of 16 which is the case today.

The overhauled penal code provides for life imprisonment for homicide, gang rape, rape of a minor and high treason.

Finally, sexual harassment in the workplace will be punishable by imprisonment rather than a fine as is the case now.