Recently the Europarliamentarian Yannis Lagos was stripped of his political asylum and sent to Greek jail. Last year he had been tried and found guilty –along with many others– for running “a criminal organization”, namely the extreme right-wing Golden Dawn party…

However, at present and as the law stands, Yannis Lagos does not lose his seat in the Europarliament. Nor does he lose his monthly salary. If he could travel, he would still be able to vote.

For this ridiculous situation, Syriza is once again at fault.

The revised and reformed penal code they voted just weeks before they fell from power makes it incredibly hard to strip deputies or any citizen of their civil rights, regardless of criminal activity. My sense is that Syriza passed this law as a nod to their favorite “radicals in jail,” the terrorist group known as the 17th of November.

Recall that the Greek penal code does not resemble the Anglo-Saxon system. For example, a life sentence in Greece is not a life sentence.

The new penal code relaxed the definition of a life sentence to a greater extent so that now “life” means a maximum of 15 years. This is often reduced to 8 years.

On this basis, some of the 17th of November “lifers” like the unrepentant Koufodinas will be out and about next year.

Taking example of the Yannis Lagos case, Nick Papandreou writes about basic characteristics of the Greek penal code and criticizes the motives of its 2019 amendment. The article is published in the the May/ June 2021 issue of Greek Business File, available here.