ATHENS – A bill to relieve overcrowding in Greek prisons would lead to hardened criminals and terrorists also being released under some provisions.
The ruling Radical Left SYRIZA-led government of Premier Alexis Tsipras, accused of harboring sympathies for anarchists and terrorists, also wants to empty prisons of the disabled and a growing sector of other criminals.
SYRIZA wants criminals, particularly relatives of high-level prisoners, to be sent out on house arrest although prosecutors said the government is moving toward almost emptying the jails drawing complaints that it could lead to dangerous convicts on the streets.
The bill brought cheers from 22 jailed members of the Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire guerrilla group who issued a statement saying they were stopping a hunger strike after 32 days.
They stopped eating as part of a protest against high-security prisons and the arrest of suspected terrorists The leniency bill allows relatives of convicts who are implicated in offenses to be put under house arrest rather than kept in custody.
The terrorists said they want the release of the mother and girlfriend of one of the jailed convicts, Gerasimos Tsakalos, who have been detained on terrorism charges.
The prison bill, which was submitted in Parliament last week prompted the intervention of the prosecutors’ union, which said it could lead to “the general release of convicts.”
Among those set to be released are notorious November 17 terrorist Savvas Xiros, said to be ill, and who was convicted of a number of assassinations over several decades.
Justice Minister Nikos Paraskevopoulos has defended his bill, which also aims to close the high-security Domokos Prison in central Greece. He said it’s more important to ease overcrowding than worry about who’s being released.