Greece introduced a bill on Tuesday that foresees tougher penalties for heinous crimes, such as rape or the sexual abuse of minors.
The proposed Justice Ministry bill, which will add a series of amendments to the penal and criminal justice code, following a period of public consultation and dialogue, was brought before Parliament for debate.
According to the provisions of the bill, heinous crimes, such as rape or the sexual abuse of minors, will entail life imprisonment as the only possible sentence; 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 as little as 15 years for these crimes.
Crime, femicides have rocked Greece in 2020
A series of femicides have rocked Greece in 2020. The latest incident involved a 54-year-old man who stabbed his ex-wife to death in Ierapetra, Crete. This marked the 13th femicide in Greece in 10 months.
Dealing with domestic violence must be carried out through the relevant support services, even within the family environment, government spokesperson Giannis Economou said last week.
“The government has made great strides in this direction,” the spokesperson noted.
“Greece’s police has developed a plan which has begun to be implemented in cooperation with local government authorities, so as to have a timely and rapid recording of such incidents, and catch up – before the situation reaches a point of no return,” he added.
Economou also noted that changes in the penal code in Greece tighten penalties for criminal acts in their entirety, and increase imprisonment for homicide.
“For homicides, in principle, the only punishment is now life imprisonment. In addition, the statute of limitations for cases of sexual violence and abuse of minors is extended, whether it concerns physical violence or sexual abuse,” he said.
“The punishment for rape and abuse becomes very severe and now reaches life imprisonment,” the spokesperson said, adding: “Institutionally and legally, the State now shields citizens against any such incidents.”
Tougher penalties for non-fatal crimes
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 statute of limitations and the way the crimes are prosecuted in order to harmonize Greek law with European conventions for protecting the rights of victims.