Statute reform to target ministers

Justice, Transparency and Human Rights Minister Haris Kastanidis yesterday heralded a change to an existing law governing ministers’ accountability that could lead to politicians being charged for offenses committed many years ago. In a radio interview, Kastanidis confirmed reports earlier this week by Kathimerini that the five-year statute of limitations would no longer apply from the date at which an offense is alleged to have been committed, but from the date that this offense is deemed to have harmed the state. «One proposal I will make to [Parliament’s cross-party] transparency committee is for the limits of the statute of limitations to be broadened,» Kastanidis told radio station Flash. «Essentially we will be setting a different starting point for the statute of limitations,» he said, stressing that the government’s aim was not to change the Constitution for the sake of it. The main conservative opposition New Democracy reacted angrily to the news, expressing concern about the possibility that the proposed law would apply retroactively, which would mean that many former ministers from the previous conservative government could still face prosecution. In an apparent reaction to these concerns, the Justice Ministry issued a statement saying that Kastanidis «had never said that the new law governing the accountability of ministers would apply retroactively.» Nevertheless it is clear that the proposed amendment – if approved – would pave the way for the investigation of cases which date back to the year 2000 and the subsequent lodging of charges against former ministers.

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