Bill for decongesting prisons angers prosecutors, pleases convicts

A bill aimed at decongesting Greece’s overcrowded prisons, which includes a provision foreseeing house arrest instead of detention in some cases, has prompted the vehement opposition of prosecutors who fear it will lead to the uncontrolled release of inmates, but has cheered convicts.

The legislation was welcomed by 22 jailed members of the Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire guerrilla group who issued a statement on Saturday saying they were stopping a hunger strike after 32 days. The jailed guerrillas were encouraged by a provision in the legislation allowing relatives of convicts who are implicated in offenses to be put under house arrest rather than kept in custody. In their statement, the convicts said they looked forward to the swift release of the mother and girlfriend of one of the jailed convicts, Gerasimos Tsakalos, who have been detained on terrorism charges.

The prison bill, which was submitted in Parliament last week prompted the intervention of the prosecutors’ union, which said it could lead to “the general release of convicts.”

Justice Minister Nikos Paraskevopoulos has defended his bill, which also aims to close the high-security Domokos Prison in central Greece. He said he respects the judiciary but that overcrowding in Greek jails is intense and must be addressed.

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