Thousands of low-earning or unemployed Greek or European Union nationals are to be afforded free state legal aid under draft legislation presented by the Justice Ministry yesterday. Justice Minister Philippos Petsalnikos said the measure would apply, in principle, to all Greek and EU nationals «whose annual family income does not exceed two thirds of the minimum yearly salary dictated by national collective wage contracts – that is, some 5,400 euros.» But beneficiaries will include non-EU nationals who can prove that they are legally resident in Greece or other EU member states. The measure, which will also apply to appeals, will cover lawyers’ fees and, in most cases, court costs. Furthermore, Petsalnikos said, in cases of suspects charged with crimes, certain categories of misdemeanors or who need psychiatric assessments, legal aid will be granted without restriction regarding their income or nationality. «In these cases… justice demands that every citizen seeking state aid should have a lawyer free of charge,» Petsalnikos said.