Party over for illegal nightclubs

A set of proposals to tighten the law on illegal nightclubs, which are potential «death traps,» was put forward yesterday by authorities in Athens. The initiative could see club owners being slapped with fines of up to 200,000 euros and their establishments shut down. The move is being coordinated by the City of Athens, the Athens Prefecture and the police. «The fact that so far we have not mourned the loss of life at one of the illegal nightclubs is pure luck,» said Athens Prefect Yiannis Sgouros. Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis drew attention to legal loopholes that allow owners to reopen their bars and clubs even if authorities have ordered them to be closed down. The three authorities want the government to pass new legislation that will allow illegal nightclub owners to be fined on the spot. Their fine will be doubled if they attempt to reopen the nightspots. The trio also want anyone breaching the regulations to face up to two years in jail. Under current law, club owners can buy off their jail sentences. Clubs should be shut down within 24 hours of their illegality being ascertained by officials, the authorities proposed. This process would involve electricity supply and telephones lines to the building being cut. There is also a move to stop businessmen opening establishments while they are waiting for licenses to be approved by the local municipality. There is a gray area in the law that allows this but authorities said the issue should be clarified so that nightspots can only open when their license has been approved. A team of prosecutors began visiting seaside clubs in southern Athens yesterday to determine which establishments have been built illegally. The checks began at Aghios Cosmas in the municipality of Hellenikon, where Mayor Christos Kortzidis recently went on hunger strike to protest illegal clubs in the area. This prompted Supreme Court prosecutor Giorgos Sanidas to instruct his colleagues to check if any of the clubs have been built illegally on public land.

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