Bill offers free lawyers for low-income groups

Poor people living in Greece – including Greeks, European Union citizens and other nationals with legal residence – are to have the right to free legal aid, according to a draft bill presented to Parliament yesterday by Justice Minister Philippos Petsalnikos. The new legislation, which only applies to those whose annual income does not exceed 5,400 euros, foresees the provision of a free lawyer in all civil cases, criminal cases (where the sentence faced is in excess of six months) and also appeals against sentences passed in criminal cases. Those who are entitled to free legal support can submit their application at the local magistrate’s office where their court case is due to be heard. The measure is expected to benefit at least 20,000 people, chiefly the unemployed, the elderly and foreigners in low-paid jobs.