Justice Ministry vows tougher prison release terms amid public outcry

Justice Ministry vows tougher prison release terms amid public outcry

The outcry following an armed robbery attempt by four released convicts on the home of an elderly woman in Athens’s southern suburbs earlier this week has prompted the Justice Ministry to re-examine a law introduced by the previous minister aimed at decongesting Greek prisons.

Investigators of the Palaio Faliro robbery – which resulted in one robber being killed after falling off a balcony while being chased by police, two being arrested and the fourth getting away – confirmed earlier this week that all four perpetrators were undocumented Georgian nationals who had received early release from related prison sentences under a law introduced by former justice minister Nikos Paraskevopoulos.

The measure has resulted in the release of hundreds of Greek and foreign convicts, stretching the resources of a police force that is ill equipped to keep tabs on their whereabouts and activities once they are at large again.

The issue surged back into the limelight in the wake of the widely publicized Palaio Faliro break-in, with opposition New Democracy calling for the law to be scrapped.

Meanwhile, the union of Attica’s special police guards has also submitted a complaint with the Supreme Court, arguing that the Paraskevopoulos law benefits dangerous criminals that officers worked hard to apprehend in the first place.

Responding to the criticism, Justice Minister Stavros Kontonis told Real FM radio on Wednesday that the law would be reviewed to prohibit the early release of inmates convicted of major crimes and repeat offenders by setting up a committee that will review each application on a case-by-case basis.

In reference to the Palaio Faliro robbery, Kontonis stressed that the issue is further complicated by the failure of foreign countries to accept the return of so-called “guest prisoners,” or undocumented migrants who are entitled to release from prison pending deportation. 

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