Case back­log may ben­e­fit high pro­file sus­pects

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

A grow­ing back­log in the coun­try’s courts is likely to re­sult in a large num­ber of po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous sus­pects be­ing re­leased from pre­trial cus­tody, ac­cord­ing to the head of the na­tional union of judges and pros­e­cu­tors.

Brief­ing a par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee yes­ter­day, Vas­si­liki Thanou warned that sus­pects com­plet­ing the 18-month max­i­mum man­dated pe­riod in cus­tody pend­ing trial are likely to be re­leased in the com­ing months as a deep­en­ing back­log means their cases are un­likely to come to trial in the next year.

Ac­cord­ing to data sub­mit­ted by Thanou in Par­lia­ment, the num­ber of cases sub­mit­ted to Greek mag­is­trates more than dou­bled be­tween 2008 and 2010, from 4,000 to 8,500. Mean­while more than half a mil­lion cases are al­ready pend­ing in the coun­try’s courts, Thanou said, not­ing that the back­log is also de­priv­ing the state of much-needed rev­enue. Pend­ing tri­als for tax eva­sion alone could raise 1.5 bil­lion eu­ros if they were to pro­ceed, she said.

Al­though Thanou did not spec­ify which sus­pects are likely to ben­e­fit from early re­lease from cus­tody, she was broadly un­der­stood to be re­fer­ring to law­mak­ers of the ne­o­fas­cist Golden Dawn who have been de­tained as part of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into whether the party op­er­ated as a crim­i­nal or­ga­ni­za­tion as well as sus­pected mem­bers of guer­rilla groups, no­tably Con­spir­acy of the Cells of Fire. Con­cerns about the re­lease of mem­bers of the lat­ter group are par­tic­u­larly press­ing fol­low­ing re­ports that Novem­ber 17 con­vict Christodou­los Xeros met reg­u­larly with them at Ko­ry­dal­los Prison be­fore he ab­sconded dur­ing a fur­lough ear­lier this month.

Po­lice have stepped up a search for the 55-year-old con­vict af­ter he ap­peared in an online video last week threat­en­ing to re­turn to ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­ity in protest at the so­cial reper­cus­sions of an on­go­ing aus­ter­ity drive in Greece.

Po­lice ar­rested four sus­pects yes­ter­day fol­low­ing raids on apart­ments in Athens and Thes­sa­loniki that turned up flares, knives and a sledge­ham­mer. One sus­pect was ar­rested in the cap­i­tal and the other three in the north­ern port city, bring­ing to nine the num­ber of peo­ple de­tained in con­nec­tion with the man­hunt.

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