Gov't proposals to downgrade certain categories of crimes, lessen sentences draws sharp criticism

Wednesday, 13 March 2019 12:15
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This week's political furor in Greece erupted over proposed changes in the penal code being promoted by the leftist Tsipras government, among others, downgrading the manufacturing and possession of firebombs from a felony to a misdemeanor offense, milder sentences for racketeering and even a stricter definition of rape.

In a bid to deflect yet more opposition and media criticism over its perceived leniency towards common crime and even politically motivated violence, a justice ministry press release late on Tuesday evening reminded that the proposed changes are in "re-examination phase" and will be possibly be rewritten.

Unnamed ministry sources later added that proposed changes are the result of reports submitted by expert committees, and are now in the phase of public debate.

The proposed milder sentencing for racketeering and forming a criminal gang even attracted a rare rebuke - against the SYRIZA government - by the leftist party's youth wing. The concerns aired by numerous critics pointed to the prospect of lighter sentences for the leadership of the ultra-nationalist Chryssi Avgi (Golden Dawn) party, assuming the latter are finally convicted in delay-fraught trial and complex indictment.

Just as astounding is the prospect of significantly shrinking the legal concept of what constitutes rape and sexual assault.

In a more-or-less expected "broadside" against the foundering Tsipras government, main opposition New Democracy referred to "scandalous provisions ... that directly favor Golden Dawn, as well as trouble-makers and masked assailants who, on a daily basis, destroy public and private property unhindered."

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