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Financial Crimes Trials Get COVID-19 Lockdown Lift Priority in Greece

ATHENS – With courts reopening more for business as a lockdown aimed at preventing the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus is being eased back, the New Democracy government said financial crimes trials will be at the top of the agenda.

Justice Minister Konstantinos Tsiaras sent a bill to the Cabinet to create special judicial departments in Athens and Thessaloniki to accelerate prosecution and trials of those accused of mismanagement of public funds and embezzlement, said Kathimerini.

That could prove difficult, however, as the government still hasn’t moved to reclassify some cases of financial crimes as felonies after they were downgraded to misdemeanors by the previous ruling Radical Left SYRIZA.

Even those convicted of major financial crimes, such as former defense minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos, have managed to evade completing jail sentences after claiming health problems or with prosecutions deferred because of the SYRIZA Law.

With the economy taking a big hit over businesses being closed during a near six-week lockdown, the government is eager to get as much revenue as possible and prevent it being siphoned off by financial criminals, such as those who stole from state contracts.

The legislation’s aim is to ensure sweeping checks by top judges on financial cases in the fields of energy, telecommunications, competition issues, development and large investment projects

The new judicial departments will be staffed by experienced judges with postgraduate or doctoral degrees or experience in litigation. It can take years for even some major crimes to go to trial in Greece.

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