Draft justice ministry bill with tougher penalties for serious crime tabled in parliament

A draft justice ministry bill with a series of amendments to the penal and criminal justice code was tabled in parliament on Tuesday, following a period of public consultation and dialogue.

The provisions in the bill were first presented by Justice Minister Konstantinos Tsiaras and Deputy Justice Minister Giorgos Kotsiras on September 24. They impose tougher penalties for heinous crimes, such as rape or the sexual abuse of minors, for which life imprisonment becomes the only possible sentence, while causing a forest fire in which at least one person is killed will also carry the penalty of a life sentence.

Other crimes for which life imprisonment will be the only possible sentence will include high treason, homicide, gang rape, fatal rape and fatal robbery. Current laws allow sentences starting from 15 years.
Penalties of 15 years in prison will be introduced for non-fatal heinous crimes, such as inflicting grievous bodily harm, causing disability or disfigurement. For particularly heinous or serious crimes, the minimum conditions in order to qualify for release are increased by one fifth, which means those sentenced to life can only apply for parole after serving 18 years of their sentence.

The bill also introduces measures designed to increase protection of vulnerable social groups and crack down on sex offenders, such as pushing back the date when offences become statute-barred and the way they are prosecuted in order to harmonise Greek law with European conventions for protecting the rights of victims.