Vehicle seizures reined in

The country’s top prosecutor yesterday sent a circular to all his colleagues informing them that it is illegal for them to order the cars or motorbikes of people caught speeding or driving drunk to be confiscated, thereby overruling a pre-Christmas directive from a Patras prosecutor. Dimitris Linos said that seizing vehicles went against the individual’s right of ownership. He added that the only cases in which confiscation should be considered was if the vehicle had been used in a premeditated crime. The use of a car or motorbike for the purpose of showing off or competing in illegal races did not fall into this bracket, Linos judged. Attica traffic police have impounded six cars since Friday after their drivers were caught racing along an Athens coastal road. Two days before Christmas, meanwhile, the chief prosecutor in the western city of Patras instructed traffic police to seize the vehicles of motorists caught racing, speeding or drunk-driving. Linos made it clear in his memorandum that separate rules could not apply in different parts of the country.