Sources: Govt promises to restore legal safeguards following furor over terrorist's furlough

Friday, 10 November 2017 14:22
UPD:11/11/2017 19:42
REUTERS/COSTAS BALTAS

The Tsipras government went into full “damage control” mode on Friday, a day after a notorious urban terrorist was conditionally released from prison on a two-day furlough.

The furlough to “November 17” assassin Dimitris Koufontinas (Koufodinas) was granted, as per the standing legal framework, after a unanimous vote by a judicial council that is headed up by an appellate-level prosecutor and also includes a social worker serving in the specific correctional facility where the inmate has been held since 2003.

Following a cascade of negative reactions and sharp criticism, including by the US State Department, the Turkish government, the US and UK ambassadors to Greece as well as families members of N17’s victims, the government reportedly provided “assurances” to foreign capitals that it will restore safeguards to prevent the future issuance of furloughs to “high-risk” prisoners.  

According to sources that spoke with “N”, the leftist-rightist coalition government conveyed this specific message to a handful of embassies in Athens.

The “message”, in broad terms, is that the furlough granted to Koufontonis is the exclusive result of the law application and is not associated with any other issues or interests. 

The ertswhile beekeeper was handed down 11 life sentences plus 25 years.

The government's pledge, although conveyed unofficially, is that it will restore safeguards that were removed in 2015 with the passing of the so-called “Paraskevopoulos law”. The latter ostensibly aimed to reduce prison overcrowding but is blamed for allowing an undetermined number of violent felons back onto the streets many years before their sentences ended.

Press reports have linked several crime-related deaths to convicts released under the controversial law.

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