By Ioanna Mandrou

Toughening penalties for many crimes, such as arson and serious traffic accidents, speeding up judicial procedures and measures to alleviate the sense of impunity that is pervasive in society, the government is attempting with its bill Ministry of Justice.

The Minister of Justice George Floridis presented its main provisions, emphasizing the importance of the new regulations for justice and citizens, while also referring to the new regulations for the serving of sentences that drastically change the criminal landscape, as from now on all sentences over three years will be served .

The political leadership of the Ministry of Justice, which is responsible for legislating the package of measures, has emphasized the importance of speeding up trials, by limiting adjournments to one, by fines for two-maniacs and by shortening many court procedures.

The Deputy Minister of Justice Ioannis Bougas also referred to the preparation of the system so that the institution of community service for those sentenced to sentences of up to three years goes into practice as a special platform has been created with 1500 agencies, hospitals, institutions, municipalities that have expressed interest in employing convicted persons .

The main points of the justice bill

-Suspension of sentences, only when it is up to one year in prison and not when there are no other irrevocable convictions for offenses beyond one year.

– Imprisonment sentences of up to two years, will be converted into monetary ones or will be served by providing community service.

-Prison sentences of up to three years will be served, as follows. Up to six months in prison, the rest with a fine, community service.

-Sentences of more than three years will normally be served in prison, as provided by law, i.e. based on the time it is predicted that the convicted person will stay inside.

-Increasing the maximum prison term for felonies from 15 to 20 years.

-Increasing the maximum prison term, when there are many crimes (consecutive felonies) to 25 years, from the current 20. For misdemeanors, when there are many (confluence) from 8 to 10 years.

-Strictening of conditions for conditional dismissal. From now on, in order to get someone out of prison prematurely, it will not be enough only to have completed the detention time, but the dangerousness of the crime and the special characteristics of the offender will be taken into account.

-Immediate adjudication, without observing the time-consuming intermediate process of the councils, for most serious crimes but also specific offenses such as forest arson, disruption of transport safety.

– For arsonists, the penalties will be stricter, for negligence from 3 to 5 years and for arson with intent up to life, while the perpetrators will go to prison in any case. Either a misdemeanor or a felony, while for malicious arson a fine of up to 200 thousand euros will be imposed.

-Provision for confiscation of the assets of the perpetrator of arson up to the amount of the damage caused by his act.
– Criminalization with severe penalties of the preparatory acts of arson, i.e. the possession of incendiary materials or objects with the purpose of preparing to commit forest arson (non-suspended non-commutable sentence).

– Imprisonment for up to one year, for the offense of non-compliance with provisions for taking fire protection measures when this omission significantly contributes to the spread of the fire, such as for example not cleaning estates, plots, etc.

-Increasing the minimum sentence for manslaughter by negligence to two years.

-Abolition of the Five-member Court of Criminal Appeals.

⁃ All misdemeanors, with exceptions (breach of duty and others), will be tried by a single judge. (Single-Member Court)⁃ A Single-Member Court of Appeal will try most felonies, while some will be tried by a Three-Member Court of Appeal.

⁃ Also, a Three-Member Court of Appeal will hear the appeals that until now were heard by the Five-Member Court of Appeal, (which is being abolished) in order to conduct the trial more quickly, but also to utilize the human resources of judicial officers.

– Criminal negotiation also at the initiative of the Prosecutor, when he deems it appropriate from the evidence of the case file, that such a thing is required. That is, negotiation with the accused, so that if he accepts his guilt and agrees to his criminal treatment, there will be no trial and further legal proceedings will be stopped.

also the criminal negotiation can also be done at the initiative of the accused and in fact even before the criminal prosecution is instituted, when the case is in preliminary investigation.

-High monetary fines for the two-maniacs and those who with fraudulent and obviously unfounded lawsuits wantonly occupy the justice system. The fines will reach up to 1500 euros, while in the cases of “professional” plaintiffs, criminal proceedings will also be initiated for false accusation.

– The unfounded lawsuits by the prosecutor will be entered into the file with a summary justification.

-Restriction of postponements from each cause to one and provision of a fee in favor of the public (from 80 to 200 euros depending on the jurisdiction of the court), to strengthen the infrastructure of justice, when the request for postponement concerns a parallel professional obligation of a lawyer in another trial.

– Provision of examination by technological means. Any testimony, such as a witness, expert, technical consultant, interpreter or litigant, without trial, explanations or an apology of an accused, can be conducted using technological means, without the physical presence of the person, when there is a serious obstacle to the appearance or risk of postponement or for the safe conduct of the procedure.

-Strictening of penalties for committing domestic violence against and against a minor.

-Incentives but also the obligation of professionals (e.g. social workers, psychologists, doctors, teachers) to immediately report any case of domestic violence while special care is taken for victims through their individual assessment and management of the risk of repetition of violence and secondary victimization .

-Special protection status for those who report incidents of violence in order to protect themselves from threats and attacks.