Judges rule to release hunger striker on bail

Efforts will be made to improve the efficiency of the Greek justice system, Justice Minister Haralambos Athanasiou said on Thursday after the Council of Appeals Court Judges decided to release hunger striker Costas Sakkas on bail.

The 29-year-old anarchist went on hunger strike June 4 to protest the fact that he was being held for 31 months, when the maximum allowed for pretrial custody is 18 months. He is accused of being a member of Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire but denies participating in the urban guerrilla group.

“Today’s decision is a response to all those who argued that the state had something to gain from keeping Costas Sakkas in custody,” said Athanasiou.

The government came under criticism from anarchist and leftist groups, as well as academics and citizens, for keeping Sakkas in custody for so long without charging him. Athanasiou said the length of the detention had to do with problems in the justice system. “We are working hard to confront many years’ worth of dysfunctionality with the aim of speeding up and improving the process of delivering justice, especially when suspects are being detained,” he said.

The judges decided on Thursday on strict conditional release terms, including posting 30,000 euros bail. Sakkas will also have to hand over his passport and is banned not only from leaving Greece but also Attica.

He will have to stay at his parents’ house in Piraeus and appear at the local police station once a week.

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