NEWS

Dealers escape long jail terms

Drug dealers are bribing doctors to list them as addicts so they can escape heavy jail sentences when they are arrested, the head of a parliamentary committee said yesterday. New Democracy Deputy Costas Kiltidis made the accusations on the sidelines of a press conference in Thessaloniki to unveil a new unit to treat drug addicts with buprenorphine (a substitute for heroin) at the city’s AHEPA hospital. Kiltidis told Kathimerini that his committee will soon present to Parliament its report on the matter and would reveal more details about the allegations he made yesterday. The MP said that the proper procedures have not been followed for the last 15 years in assessing whether people who have been arrested on drug charges are actually addicts. Kiltidis said that rather than conduct toxicology tests, doctors simply run through a questionnaire with the suspect. «At the moment, if a drug dealer answers correctly the nine questions in the questionnaire, in line with a law passed in 1987, then he can be considered a drug addict,» the deputy said. «All this has been underlined at official conferences but nothing has been done.» Kiltidis told his audience, including Thessaloniki Prefect Panayiotis Psomiadis and the city’s Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos, that efforts to provide therapy for addicts are futile if the process to assess people’s addiction is flawed. The MP alleged that a third of drug dealers who are arrested manage to convince authorities to list them as addicts. He said that dealers pay some 30,000 euros in bribes for this benefit. The new unit at the AHEPA hospital will treat around 100 addicts and will also provide psychological support to the users, officials said.