Justice moves with times

The biggest overhaul of the Greek justice system in more than 50 years is set to start, after the government yesterday announced the heads of two committees which will oversee the reform of the country’s penal and criminal procedure codes. Some 55 years after the codes were drawn up, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis yesterday held a meeting with Justice Minister Anastassis Papaligouras and the two men in charge of updating the system – academic Nikos Androulakis and honorary Supreme Court prosecutor Evangelos Kroustalakis. Papaligouras admitted that in many cases the two codes are «out of date» and need reform to make them more relevant and compatible with EU standards. The government is hoping that a reform of the penal code will allow lawmakers to take into account the emergence of new offenses such as electronic crime and money laundering as well as new fields such as genetics. The overhaul, which will take about a year, will also provide an opportunity to get rid of irrelevant and old-fashioned laws, such as the one which carries a jail sentence for bakers who open their stores too early. An overhaul of the criminal procedure code, meanwhile, should allow the judicial process to become more efficient and help prevent unnecessarily long and complicated trials. Papaligouras also unveiled plans yesterday to introduce stricter laws on child pornography. Speaking in Parliament, the minister said the relevant draft law would soon be submitted to the house. The bill will bring in fines of between 10,000 and 300,000 euros for those found distributing indecent material involving children. Those convicted could also face up to a year in jail, Papaligouras said. If the material is made available on the Internet, the sentence will be doubled. Those involved in the production of child pornography could be fined up to 100,000 euros and handed a 10-year jail sentence. If a child is seriously hurt during the production of the material, the perpetrator will be jailed for a minimum of 10 years and fined up to 500,000 euros. «This problem is developing into the scourge of our times,» Papaligouras said. «We are protecting society and our new generation from this threat.» He added that the bill would allow children who have been abused to testify in court cases via video link or through recorded testimonies. Papaligouras said the law would also protect the identity of the children.

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