SYRIZA expels former minister Kontonis over party criticism

SYRIZA expels former minister Kontonis over party criticism

Main opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance announced late Thursday that it is expelling prominent lawmeker and former minister Stavros Kontonis from its ranks, after he criticized the party in-fighting and changes to the penal code passed by the previous, SYRIZA-led administration, which foresees lighter sentences for people convicted of running a criminal gang.

In a statement issued Thursday night, SYRIZA lashed out at Kontonis, claiming he "had forfeited the right to be a member of the party," after he decided "to turn against his own party".

It also accused him of choosing "to demean a huge popular victory against the criminal action of the neonazis," refering to the conviction on Wednesday of the leadership of neo-Nazi Golden Dawn in a long-running trial.

The reaction came after the former minister said on Thursday that he had disagreed with changes introduced to the criminal code by the SYRIZA government in the spring of 2019 making the sentences for a number of crimes more lenient. For instance, the leader of a criminal organization receives the same treatment as a member, he noted.

These changes could result in lighter terms for Golden Dawn members. 

Kontonis attributed his resignation from the party’s central committee to infighting within SYRIZA, which, he said, “does not correspond to the needs of workers, the people and society.”

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