Court closures pile pressure on justice system

Court closures pile pressure on justice system

The government is seeking ways to address the pressure on the justice system due to the soaring number of criminal cases that have not gone to trial as courts have been shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic.

More specifically, authorities are reportedly looking at the prospect of writing off a backlog of untried less serious criminal cases which number in their thousands and growing by the day, following a proposal by prosecutors. At the same time, a solution is being sought for more serious criminal cases that are pending, since those accused of serious offenses will at some point be released due to the passing of the 18-month temporary detention period.

Kathimerini understands that the proposal of the prosecutors to limit the number of offenses punishable by up to one year in prison is being considered favorably as a necessary measure by the Justice Ministry as officials believe that otherwise it will be impossible to adjudicate all these cases.

Greece has resorted to the solution of a mass write-off of criminal cases on three occasions since 2012.

At the same time, hundreds of more serious cases that were scheduled to be tried during the time that the courts were closed are at risk of being written off due to an expiration of the statute of limitations. 

Because of this concern, attempts are afoot to cram such cases into June in the hope that criminal courts will have opened by that time. There are also proposals for litigation during the summer months for cases at risk of being thrown out due to the expiry of the statute of limitations. 

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