ATHENS – As the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA moved for more lenient sentences for embezzlers and people who throw Molotov Cocktails at riot police, a lawmaker for the party drew outrage after he said no one had even been killed by the firebombs, apparently mocking or forgetting three bank workers who died in a 2010 fire.
During a debate on the government’s plan to reduce sentences for firebomb users – the party is riddled with terrorist and anarchist sympathizers -SYRIZA MP Giorgos Kyritsis said that “in the 30 or more years that I worked as a journalist I do not recollect anyone being killed by a Molotov Cocktail.”
That drew immediate umbrage from the major opposition, poll-leading New Democracy, with elections coming this year and the Conservatives hammering away at SYRIZA, accusing the Leftists and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of condoning widespread violence.
New Democracy was reacting to Kyritsis’ defense of government plans to change the country’s criminal code that would reduce the manufacture and possession of homemade firebombs from a felony to a misdemeanor, said Kathimerini.
“The only thing Kyritsis has not tried to tell the families of the Marfin Bank victims is that their people died because of a short-circuit,” ND said in a statement. “He should be nothing but ashamed of himself.” One of the victims, Angeliki Papathanasopoulou, 32, was pregnant. The other victims were Paraskevi Zoulia,and Epaminondas Tsakalis
No one has been prosecuted for throwing the Molotov Cocktail into the branch of the bank that was forced by management to stay open during massive anti-austerity protests that turned violent and deadly, leading to bank officials being charged.
The bank workers, died of smoke inhalation while becoming trapped in the flaming building, as rescuers were prevented from approaching the location by protesters throwing projectiles at emergency response units and blocking access.
SYRIZA deputies’ “insolence knows no limits,” New Democracy said as heat grew on the government that was already under fire for going easy on anarchists rampaging across the capital and attacking a number of targets – even for SYRIZA offices, blaming Tsipras for imposing more austerity he swore to reverse.
New Democracy party deplored the lower penalty for making and throwing gasoline bombs, which anarchist and far-left demonstrators often use against police officers, with Tsipras and SYRIZA not condemning them for doing so.
New Democracy said the proposed changes would encourage use of Molotov Cocktails and also criticized the ministry’s proposed softening of the sentence for heading a criminal organization, the charge being used to prosecute all 15 Members of Parliament of the ultra-extreme right Golden Dawn, now in the fourth year of their trial.
SYRIZA’s youth branch, rebuking Tsipras and their party leadership, opposed the proposed penalty for leading a criminal organization, as well as a separate proposal that would make rape convictions more difficult with the government wanting to go easier on alleged rapists.
After claiming only rival parties were corrupt and demanding stronger penalties, SYRIZA proposed changes to the law that would be more lenient for state embezzlers.
Justice Minister Mihalis Kalogirou announced wholesale changes to the Greek penal and criminal procedure codes that will abolish the law for embezzling that the government said was too harsh because it allows for life sentences although some politicians convicted were let out after a few years after claiming ill health.
That includes former defense minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos, now walking around Athens and seen eating lobster spaghetti after serving only a few years after being convicted of stealing scores of millions of euros from defense contracts.
Tsipras also has claimed, without a shred of evidence, that 10 rival politicians took bribes from the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis to push its products, based on hearsay evidence from three whistleblowers, two of whom remain unidentified.
Based on the changes, those who embezzle state money will be convicted to a maximum of 15 years in prison, while their crimes shall be time-barred after 20 years, said Kathimerini, but if they repay all that they stole they could get favorable treatment not given those convicted of lesser crimes, or even be designated acquitted although found guilty.
The law also expands the role of the prosecutors who will have all the powers of the investigative magistrates except from ordering pre-trial detention but who could set aside cases they don’t think are serious or negotiate plea bargains instead of going to court.
The draft law abolishes fines as a penalty to avoid prison with wealthy people convicted of crimes able to avoid going to jail by buying out their time for penalties as low as 5 euros ($5.62) a day.