A new degree of murder?

Justice Ministry officials are thinking of revising the criminal code to create a new degree of offense between manslaughter and murder, sources told Kathimerini. This follows widespread complaints by legal experts regarding the severity of charges levied against suspects accused of indirectly causing large-scale loss of human life in natural disasters, road accidents or shipwrecks over the past four years. In cases such as the September 2000 Samina shipwreck and the collapse of certain Athens buildings in the September 1999 earthquake, ships officers and civil engineers were charged with murder with possible malice aforethought – which carries a maximum life sentence – to appease public opinion. Manslaughter, punishable with up to five years’ imprisonment, was seen as too lenient. Following remonstrations from the Athens Bar Association and academics, ministry experts are considering a new offense – manslaughter through conscious indifference for human life – bearing a maximum 10-year sentence.