Justice Minister Mihalis Kalogirou on Friday announced sweeping changes to the Greek penal and criminal procedure codes that will abolish a contentious law on state embezzlers, seek to reclaim damages from perpetrators, boost the role of prosecutors, introduce community service as a sentence and avoid needless trials.
Law 1608 on state embezzlers, introduced 70 years ago, has been widely criticised by the legal community as too harsh, resulting in sentences that may reach life imprisonment.
Based on the changes, those who embezzle state money will be convicted to a maximum of 15 years in prison, while their crimes shall be time-barred after 20 years.
If the accused fully repay the embezzled funds, they may be offered a favorable criminal treatment or even – in exceptional cases – be acquitted.
The law also expands the role of the prosecutors who will have all the powers of the investigative magistrates except from ordering pre-trial detention. Prosecutors will be able to archive cases that are not deemed serious or concern public interest, and negotiate a lower sentence with a suspect in exchange for a guilty plea.
Additionally, the draft law abolishes fines as a penalty to avoid prison.
The above changes will not affect the treatment of violent crimes (murder, rape, robbery etc.)
Kalogirou said the changes seek to modernize Greece’s legal system and expressed hope they will be widely backed by opposition parties when they are brought to Parliament.