ATHENS – Justice Minister Haralambos Athanasiou said Greece is moving to allow prisoners to study – but in jail – hoping to appease an anarchist on a hunger strike because he’s not being allowed to leave jail to attend college.
That came after a court rejected an appeal by convicted bank robber Nikos Romanos for study furloughs, deeming that his violent past and links to terrorist activities made him a flight risk.
The 21-year-old’s hunger strike reached 25 days on Dec. 4 and was moved from the high-security Korydallos Prison to the capital’s G. Gennimata Hospital after becoming weak.
In a written response to the ruling, Romanos vowed to continue his protest “until victory or death,” but didn’t say if he would be satisfied to study in jail or wanted to get out from time to time to attend class at an Athens technical college where he was admitted after passing entrance exams.
The government’s bill would allow prisoners to pursue their studies by correspondence or distance learning, according to Athanasiou, who said inmates could study in a designated area inside the prison and have an on-site supervising professor.
Athanasiou said he had reached out to the youth’s parents to convince him to stop the hunger strike. Authorities are keen to avert the protest without delay as Dec. 6 marks the sixth anniversary of the death of Alexandros Grigoropoulos, a 15-year-old friend of Romanos who was killed by a police bullet in Exarchia, central Athens, in 2008.
A rally in solidarity with Romanos on Dec. 2 ended in violence in the anarchist hotbed neighborhood of Exarchia, with attacks on vehicles and clashes with police.