Bill to speed up justice

Estranged spouses and petty criminals are among those expected to benefit from a new bill on accelerating the course of justice that is being drafted by the government. The bill, which is to be tabled in Parliament by Justice Minister Anastassis Papaligouras, also provides for much stricter penalties for those judged liable for major accidents – a category of suspects hitherto charged with the draconian «murder with possible malice aforethought,» for lack of adequately tough sentencing guidelines in cases of negligent manslaughter. Judges will now be able to impose a maximum 10-year sentence, double the current ceiling. Furthermore, the new bill will allow faster divorce settlements, while at the same time saving manpower by reducing to one the number of judges sitting on such cases. Another move intended to lubricate the slow mechanisms of Greek justice is a restriction on countersuits for defamation until the initial defamation case has been settled. Also, criminal courts will be able to extend their sessions to after the current 4 p.m. limit, if necessary. And prisoners serving up to two years for misdemeanors will be freed after serving a fifth of their sentence.