MPs oppose bill for house arrest of sick prisoners

Government officials clashed with opposition MPs in Parliament on Wednesday on a bill aimed at decongesting prisons that includes a provision permitting house arrest for seriously disabled prisoners.

Justice Minister Nikos Paraskevopoulos (photo) conceded that the bill would enable the early release of November 17 convict Savvas Xeros, who is serving multiple life terms for his part in the now disbanded terrorist group’s activities.

Rival MPs spoke of “tailor-made legislation” to release terrorists.

“Is your conscience at ease vis-a-vis the victims of terrorism, Bakoyannis, Momferatos, Axarlian?” declared New Democracy MP Kyriakos Mitsotakis, referring to three victims of N17. Mitsotakis said Xeros, who is seriously disabled, should be allowed special medical treatment, but in prison. “His disability was a result of self-injury inflicted while he was planting a bomb to kill other innocent people,” he said.

Paraskevopoulos denied that the controversial provision had been drafted with any particular convict in mind, adding that it would not lead to release but house arrest. He said the degeneration of Xeros’s eyesight was a result of inadequate medical care in prison. “That means that the [detention] conditions offered by the Greek state blinded him,” the minister said.

Another ND MP, and former public order minister, Vassilis Kikilias, called for the bill to be revoked, while Haralambos Athanasiou, a former justice minister, noted that “terrorists plan attacks from their homes.”

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