New rule on MPs’ immunity

Parliament yesterday approved a new rule aimed at shaming MPs into showing their colleagues less leniency on matters of immunity from prosecution. The amendment to the 300-member house’s regulations, drafted by Parliament Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis, calls for MPs to cast an open vote in debates on whether to allow the prosecution of deputies on charges that are not related to politics, and therefore do not automatically qualify for immunity. A six-member house committee will first decide whether the charges are political. The measure, which will apply from October, was deemed necessary after MPs repeatedly voted, in secret ballots, against the prosecution of their colleagues on non-political charges. One such case concerned New Democracy’s Athanassios Katsiyiannis – supervising engineer on a building that collapsed in the 1999 Athens quake, killing a boy – whom a prosecutor had wanted to charge with murder with possible intent. Similar charges have been brought against engineers, architects and corporate officials implicated in similar incidents.

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