Bill for indicting ministers

Parliament will find it slightly easier to indict Cabinet ministers for criminal acts or felonies, but once the 300-member House has rejected a proposed indictment, it will be unable to have another go at the minister in question for the same alleged offense, under a new draft law presented yesterday. According to the proposed legislation, made public by Justice Minister Philippos Petsalnikos, a 151-vote parliamentary majority will be required to indict ministers. Under extant law, 180 ballots are required in an initial vote, and if these are not raised, a second round of voting is held in which 151 ballots suffice to have a minister indicted. Only five ministers have been tried (between 1989 and 1992) under the current system, including former Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou, who was acquitted. Of the rest, one was jailed, another two were convicted but bought off their sentences, and the fifth, Agamemnon Koutsogiorgas, suffered a fatal stroke in court. The draft law also imposes a 10-year statute of limitations on crimes allegedly committed by ministers.

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