NEWS

Judiciary goes digital

Heralding a «new era» for the Greek judicial system, Justice Minister Philippos Petsalnikos said yesterday that the criminal record service will be computerized. In the first phase, this will allow his ministry to swiftly process accreditation requests for the Athens 2004 Olympics. This is part of a major reformation of the creaky justice system, which is still based mostly on handwritten notes stashed in paper folders. «In the 21st century, the Greek justice system cannot carry on with conditions from the past,» Petsalnikos told a news conference. «One of the most important tasks undertaken by the Justice Ministry is the modernization and computerization of judicial services, with the aim of improving their effectiveness and providing high level services to the citizen. This project not only creates a new page in the judicial system but ushers in a new era for the judiciary.» The computerization of the system is expected to cost 210 million euros. Petsalnikos said that Athens 2004’s security service will begin sending accreditation requests to the Justice Ministry from next February. «They will be submitted in a continual flow which will approach 3,500 requests per day. The applications will be sent to the autonomous criminal record service of the Justice Ministry’s central service,» Petsalnikos said. About 300,000 people are expected to be accredited for the Games. The Justice Ministry will have to reply with a simple «yes» or «no» to each request within three days. Priority will be given to the computerization of the criminal record service and the prosecutor’s office in the six cities where Olympic events will be held, at a budgeted cost of 11.8 million euros. The ministry plans to file about 3 million criminal records on the electronic system, which will result in citizens being able to receive certificates regarding their status after an average wait of five minutes. «I believe you remember the queues of about 200 people outside the relevant Justice Ministry department in the past, without their knowing when they would be served,» Petsalnikos said. «We have made our service to the citizen our top priority, at the same time as meeting the challenge of the great national target of preparing for the 2004 Olympics,» he said.