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Justice Minister makes last minute amendment as Romanos begins also “thirst-strike”(30th day “hunger-strike”)

After the dramatic but fruitless consultations between political parties in Greek Parliament on Tuesday night, prisoner Nikos Romanos, 21, began also a “thirst strike” on Wednesday morning, the 30th day of the “hunger-strike” he started on November 10th. With the crucial for Romanos case parliament voting on prisoners’ educational furloughts to have been postponed to start at 2:30 pm today, Romanos’ laywer told the media that the Minister of Justice shows disdain when it comes to the application of “surveillance wristband”. At the same time, the wave of solidarity protests for Romanos is growing. Yet solidarity protests are not always peaceful: a bomb was placed outside a bank in Athens and a group of  people wearing hoodies set a public bus on fire.

Law amendment

Justice Minister Charalambos Athanasiou (Nea Dimokratia) tabled a law amendment for prisoners on educational furloughs. According to this,

Strong verbal confrontations between the justice minister and the opposition but also coalition government partner PASOK took place during the debate in the Parliament last night. SYRIZA, PASOK, Democratic Left and Communist KKE urged the Justice Minister to make changes and blamed him for bearing the sole responsibility should Nikos Romanos die.

“Do we want to go to Presidential elections carrying coffins for dead?”, PASOK MP Apostolos Kaklamanis said characteristically.

Samaras’ coalition partner PASOK proposed that the Minister of Justice proceeds with ameliorative changes that allow prisoners who have passed the entrance exams to universities or colleges to attend classes wearing an “electronic surveillance wristband.” The pilot program should be applied for prisoners in Athens.

SYRIZA MPs stressed that finding a solution for Romanos was “a matter of political will” and nothing more.

Last minute amendment

Wednesday noon and short before the voting started in the Parliament, media report that the Justice Minister did make indeed an ameliorative change.

Amendment change: prisoners may attend classes wearing an electronic surveillance wristband after they have attended the classes of first semester per teleconference.

ANT1 TV reported the news added that SYRIZA was against this change.

“Electronic Surveillance wristbands” Not available…

Although the law for prisoners wearing “electronic surveillance wristbands” had been approved by the Parliament almost a year ago, the supply of them was not possible for some “technical details” that had to do with Justice.

Now the supply problems seems to have been solved, however, the program would need at least three months until it can be applied in real prisoners life.

In this context, Athanasiou’ proposal does make sense.

According to Romanos’ lawyer, Athanasiou had proposed to the family that it comes up for the cost of the electronic surveillance…. apparently as Nikos Romanos would be the first prisoner in Greece to wear one.

The amendment shows that common sense prevailed in the head of PM Samaras and the Justice Minister nevertheless given the electronic surveillance circumstances. Whether SYRIZA will support it or not is not important after all.

The decision is up to hunger-striker Nikos Romanos to decide.



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