Hunger striker could wear bracelet

Justice Minister Haralambos Athanasiou on Monday indicated that the jailed anarchist and bank robber Nikos Romanos, who is in the 30th day of a hunger strike in protest at authorities’ refusal to grant him furlough to attend lectures, could be allowed to do so with a monitoring bracelet.

“If we start enforcing the use of the bracelet and it fulfills our preconditions… then this can be implemented,” Athanasiou said, responding to a question by leftist SYRIZA MP Tasos Kourakos, referring to legislation that has been approved in Parliament but has yet to be put into effect.

Until the measure comes into effect, Athanasiou appealed to Romanos’s parents to convince their son to begin his studies by distance learning, in accordance with the provisions of a new bill that is to be voted on in Parliament today.

The 21-year-old has rejected distance learning, insisting that he wants to attend lectures in person. On Monday, however, his lawyer said he was open to wearing a monitoring bracelet. “I guarantee that Romanos wants to study, not to escape,” Fragiskos Ragousis said. Earlier in the day, Romanos’s father met with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to discuss the situation but told reporters afterward that there had been no breakthrough. He also met with SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras. Samaras said that as a parent he understood Romanos’s concerns but that as prime minister he could not intervene in the course of justice. The 21-year-old has appealed to the Supreme Court to overturn a rejection of his appeal to be granted study leave.

Meanwhile, as protesters held sit-ins in dozens of public buildings in solidarity with Romanos, doctors opposed a prosecutor’s order for him to be force fed.