Terrorists can seek early release under contentious new penal code

Terrorists can seek early release under contentious new penal code

Four jailed members of the now-defunct Greek terrorist group November 17, including leader Alexandros Giotopoulos, will be able to apply as of Tuesday for conditional release on the basis of a new penal code that came into effect Monday, and the group’s hitman Dimitris Koufodinas will be able to do the same in September.

According to the provisions of law 110A, the right to early release under specific conditions has been extended to lifers irrespective of their crime and the number of life sentences they have been handed, provided they have served 17 years in prison.

If the convicted terrorists lodge applications for early release and see them approved, they would be obliged to remain under house arrest and wear an electronic monitoring bracelet.

Under the previous penal code, those convicted of terrorism did not have the right to early release under any conditions.

Commenting Monday, Justice Minister Michalis Kalogirou claimed that the new code actually toughens conditions for terrorists’ final release and did not comment at all on the provisions relating to early conditional release.

Apart from Giotopoulos, the group’s leader, who is serving 17 life sentences and 25 years, another three N17 members will be able to lodge applications for release: the brothers Savvas and Christodoulos Xiros and Vassilis Tzortzatos, who are also serving multiple life sentences.

Koufodinas, who was arrested after his fellow group members, will be able to apply in September, when he will have completed 17 years behind bars.

The hitman is currently serving his sentence in a low-security prison in the town of Volos. He has been granted several furloughs but his application for a seventh has been repeatedly rejected.

Koufodinas, who also faces insurgency charges in connection with an inmates’ protest in solidarity with a hunger-striking anarchist in February 2018, resubmitted his appeal as the penal code changes insurgency from a felony to a misdemeanor. A judicial council is expected to issue a final ruling on that appeal in the coming days.

The new penal code has been criticized by both judicial officials and legal experts as well as opposition New Democracy, which is expected to lead the next government but will have little scope to change the law.

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