A few days ago, Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis handed a multi-page report on the powerful criminal organizations that are active in Greece to the Supreme Court prosecutor. Reporting on the issue revealed that the report was prepared by the security services, including a list of the names and addresses of 500 convicted criminals who over the last 10 years have been heavily involved in cases that include murder, contract killings, extortion, bombings, pimping, usury, drug smuggling, contraband cigarettes and oil smuggling.
Despite the fact that “these 500 people have been arrested, convicted and sentenced to prison, they continue to be active in organized crime,” Kathimerini recently reported.
This spectacular move by Chrysochoidis, obviously, is addressed to many people. It sends messages in multiple directions and states that, among others, the darkness is receding and criminal acts are increasingly “visible.”
That organized crime has international tendrils and connections, and that Greece is no exception, is a fact. Countries that have experience with organized crime, like Italy, mourned many prosecutors who dedicated themselves to dismantling it, especially in Sicily and elsewhere in the country’s south.
It would be too ambitious, if not naive, for somebody to believe in an absolute “catharsis,” in a full defanging of these ever-expanding entities, these communicating vessels between prison and society. However, since Chrysochoidis decided to make a brave start, we will wait to see what happens. Because if the “war of night” lasts throughout the day and these “20 main criminal groups roam the country,” it obviously is not an isolated activity.
They are substitutes for institutions that are weak or vulnerable, undermining the trust of citizens in the political system, shaking the very rule of law. Organized crime groups possess the “skeleton key” to processes that should be watertight and unassailable, processes that are there to protect those involved, so they can safely carry out their duty without threats to their lives, or to ensure that they cannot be judged to be biased in carrying out their responsibility, either in an effort to protect themselves or to line their wallet.
This move by Chrysochoidis set the bar very high, creating not only optimism, but expectations for the future.