NEWS

Concerns about penal code as five guerrilla convicts seek early release

concerns-about-penal-code-as-five-guerrilla-convicts-seek-early-release

With legal experts expressing concern about the repercussions of a new penal code that leaves a window for convicted terrorists to secure early conditional release, five members of the guerrilla group Conspiracy of the Cells have submitted appeals under new legal provisions. 

The five convicts were arrested in 2010 and 2011 in Volos and Athens and were each given prison terms of 70 years, which were subsequently reduced to 20 years, and can now secure early release under the provisions of the new penal code.

In view of the fact that another two Conspiracy members were recently released, the release of another five – should their appeals be approved – would leave only one member of the group behind bars.

The development has fueled unease in the Greek Police, where there are fears the release of those convicts could encourage a resurgence of guerrilla activity, as could the potential release of jailed members of the now defunct terrorist group November 17 who are also eligible for conditional early release under the reformed penal code, specifically under provision 110A.

The provision, which grants lifers the right to conditional early release irrespective of their crime as long as they have served at least 17 years in prison, appears virtually designed to free N17 convicts, experienced prosecutors and judges have told Kathimerini.

Judicial officials underline the fact that the provision stipulates a minimum time served of 17 years for inmates wanting early release, noting that four N17 convicts have served exactly that time behind bars.

Apart from Alexandros Giotopoulos, the group’s leader, who is serving 17 life sentences and 25 years, another three N17 members are eligible for early release: the brothers Savvas and Christodoulos Xiros and Vassilis Tzortzatos, who are

also serving multiple life sentences. Dimitris Koufodinas, the group’s key hitman, will be able to apply in September, when he will have completed 17 years behind bars.

Justice Minister Michalis Kalogirou has insisted that the new penal code toughens conditions for terrorists’ final release but did not comment on the new provisions that make them eligible for conditional early release.

Opposition New Democracy spokeswoman Sofia Zacharaki said the new code demonstrated the leftist government’s “tolerance for all forms of lawlessness.”