Phone transcripts submitted by ex-minister suggest pressure over prison laws

Phone transcripts submitted by ex-minister suggest pressure over prison laws

Recorded telephone conversations between prison inmates and high-ranking SYRIZA cadres are among key evidentiary material submitted to the Supreme Court prosecutor’s office on Monday by the former alternate minister for citizens’ protection, Yiannis Panousis, who claims he was threatened by colleagues.

According to the material gathered by the National Intelligence Service (EYP), a particular group within the leftist party that maintained close ties to jailed terrorists and other inmates was planning to place a “sympathetic” politician at the head of the Justice Ministry to influence legislation on maximum security C-type jails, DNA evidence, the release of convicted November 17terrorist Savvas Xeros, and other related matters.

Among the people named by Panousis are a close aide to Justice Minister Nikos Paraskevopoulos, a convicted member of the urban guerrilla group Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire and an inmate who allegedly plays an influential role within the prison where he is serving his sentence.

The transcripts of the conversation also show the two inmates discussing legislation they would like to see passed as well as criticizing Panousis for his decisions as minister.

Panousis told the Supreme Court prosecutor that he received death threats from certain SYRIZA members after he failed to back their demands in matters related to public order and the prison system.

Following the revelations, SYRIZA political secretariat member Panos Lambrou issued a statement saying that as part of his work in campaigning for prisoners’ rights he spoke to inmates at most of Greece’s jails. But he denied any ulterior motives and claimed that much of the coverage around Panousis’s claims was aimed at damaging his, and SYRIZA’s, image.

Paraskevopoulos also said that Justice Ministry officials were in contact with inmates but insisted that this is part of the government’s duty. He insisted that the details of legislation were not under discussion with prisoners. The justice minister also noted that while Lambrou was an adviser at the ministry, he is no longer employed there.

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