Seeking to crack down on the vociferous protests against auctions of foreclosed properties outside courthouses and notary offices, the government on Wednesday passed an amendment to a Justice Ministry draft bill stipulating that anyone using violence or the threat of violence will be instantly prosecuted.
More specifically, the amendment, which was passed after pressure from Greece’s international creditors, states that no formal request (motu proprio) will be required for action to be taken against offenders. The same amendment also sets minimum prison sentences of three or six months for anyone entering areas where auctions are taking place without permission.
Meanwhile, riot police on Wednesday used tear gas again outside an Athens courthouse to disperse angry demonstrators. Unfazed by the new amendment, protesters said that they will continue their fight against the auctions.
“We will have an even stronger presence every Wednesday outside courthouses and notary offices where auctions take place,” said members of the “I Won’t Pay” group, which has been at the forefront of the demonstrations.
However, despite the clashes and the decision of notaries in some parts of Greece to abstain from the proceedings until their safety is secured, the auctions of properties seized by banks from debtors went ahead on Wednesday, as did electronic auctions.
Piraeus Bank announced the conclusion of its third open electronic auction of 48 properties which have come into its possession through the properties4sale.gr website. According to the bank, 196 offers were submitted for 29 properties and the bank approved the sale of 20.
Moreover, before the electronic auctions began, bidders offered the asking price for and purchased six properties.
The 26 properties that were sold fetched a total of 3.8 million euros.
For their part, banks insist that auctions are necessary to rein in bad debtors. Speaking to the BBC’s “Business Daily,” Piraeus Bank CEO Christos Megalou said that it is fundamentally important to restore a payment culture in order to put the economy on solid foundations. He clarified that the properties being auctioned electronically are not primary residences but are linked to bad company loans or mid-range businesses.