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Hunger strike ends as Greek government caves

Nov. 20, 2008
After 18 days 7,000 prisoners in greece stop their hunger strike after the ministry
of justice concedes to a series of their demands, promising to release half the
country's prison population by April 2009.

On Thursday the 20th of November more than 7,000 hunger strikers in greek prisons
demanding a comprehensive 45-point program of prison reform have decided to stop
their hunger strike, already on its 18th day, after the Ministry of Justice
responded to their struggle and to the widening solidarity movement which in the
last weeks has held several mass protest marches in the greek cities by declaring
that by next April the number of prisoners in greek jails will be reduced to 6.815
from the present 12.315, thus effectively releasing half of the country's prison
population.

The Ministry's declaration in detail states that:

1) All persons convicted to a sentence up to five years for any
offense including drug related crimes can tranform their sentence into
a monetary penalty. This will not be allowed in the case the jury
decides that the payment is not enough to deter the convict from
commiting punishable acts in the future.

2) The minimum sum for tranforming one day of prison sentence to
monetary penanlty is reduced from 10 euros to 3, with the provision of
being reduced to 1 euro by decision of the jury.

3) All people who have served 1/5 of their prison sentence for 2
year sentences and 1/3 for sentences longer than 2 years are to be
released, with no exceptions.

4) The minimum limit of served sentence is reduced to 3/5 for
conditional release and for convicts for drug related crimes. Those
condemned under conditions of law ?. 3459/2006 (articles 23 ??? 23?)
are excepmpted.

5) The maximum limit of pre-trial impironment is reduced from 18 to
12 months, with the excemption of crimes puniched by liife or 20year
sentence.

6) The annual time of days-off prison is increased by one day.
Tougher conditions for days-off are limited for those convicted for
drug related crimes under ?. 3459/2006.

7) Disciplinary penalties are to be integrated.

8) Integration after 4 years into national law of the European Council decision of
drug trafficking (2004/757).

9) Expansion of implementation of conditional release of convicts
suffering from AIDS, kidney failure, persistent TB, and tetraplegics.

What the Ministry failed to answer with regard to the prisoners' demands include:

1) Monetary exchange of prison sentences longer than 5 years,
especially for 6.700 prisoners presently convicted for non-criminal
offenses.

2) Abolition of juvenile prisons

3) Abolition of accumulative disciplinary penalties

4) Abolition of 18 months pre-trial imprisonment for a large number of offenses.

5) Satisfactory expansion of days off, despite the fact that the
application of present liberties has been tested as succesfull during
the last 18 years.

6) Immediate improvement of relocation conditions of convicts

7) Holding a meeting between the minister of justice and the prisoners' committee

Thus in a press release, the Prisoners' Commitee announced that:

"The amendment submitted to the Parliament by the Ministry of
Justice tackles but a few of our demands. The minister ought to
materialize his promises for the immediate release of the suggested
number of prisoners announced, and at the same time implement concrete
measures regarding the totality of our demands. We the prisoners treat
this amendment as a first step, a result of our struggle and of the
solidarity shown by society. Yet it fails to covers us, it fails to
solve our problems. With our struggle, we have first of all fought for
our dignity. And this dignity we cannot offer as a present to no
minister, to no screw. We shall tolerate no arbitrary acts, no vengeful
relocation, no terrorizing disciplinary act. We are standing and we
shall stay standing. We demand form the Parliament to move towards a
complete abolition of the limit of 4/5 of served sentence, the
abolition of accumulated time for disciplinary penalties, and the
expansion of beneficial arrangements regarding days-off, and
conditional releases for all categories of prisoners. Moreover, we
demand the immediate legislation on the presently vague promises of the
minister of justice regarding the improvement of prison conditions
(abolition of juvenile prisons, foundation of therapeutic centers for
drug dependents, implementation of social labour in exchange for prison
sentence, upgrading of hospital care of prisoners, incorporation of
european legislation favorable to the prisoners in the greek law etc.).
Finally, we offer our thanks to the solidarity movement, to every
component, party, medium, and militant who stood by us with all and any
means of his or her choice, and we declare that our struggle against
these human refuse dumps and for the victory of all our demands
continues".
Prisoners' Committee 20/11/08.


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