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Law passed by SYRIZA was 'tailor-made for criminals', Marinakis says

Featured Law passed by SYRIZA was 'tailor-made for criminals', Marinakis says

A meeting between Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Thessaly farmers will most likely be held on March 11 and probably in Thessaly, government spokesperson Pavlos Marinakis said on Monday, in an interview with the state broadcaster ERT.

Questioned about the changes to the penal code and criticism that this will lead to overcrowding in prisons, Marinakis countered by saying that the laws passed by the SYRIZA government of 2019 "were tailor-made" for criminals and had reduced the sentences for even serious crimes, such as murder, to as little as 15 years.

He noted that the latest measures were "not punitive or vengeful but fair" and stopped a state of affairs where suspended sentences were the rule and virtually obligatory, even in cases involving serious damage to life and property, and prisoners automatically qualified for release after serving a certain amount of their sentence, regardless of their behaviour and the risk of them re-offending. Thirdly, he noted, the legislation took a series of measures to ensure the speedier delivery of justice.

Regarding the prime minister's possible visit to Thessaly, he said that HVA's report on the reconstruction of the flood-stricken region will have been delivered by that time. He noted that this discussion will not exclusively concern issues of the primary sector but the broader present and future of Thessaly.

Regarding farmers' demands, he said the government was very cautious in a country "burnt by maximalism" in handouts. "The truth is that after the last discussion that took place with farmers, many of the farmers' long-term demands were met, first and foremost that of electricity," he pointed out, referring to the relevant measures.

Marinakis stressed that the fiscal margins to give farmers more did not exist, though the government will continue to press hard in Europe for a more gradual green transition in Europe.

Commenting on the bill allowing non-state, non-profit universities in Greece, he said that this was "a flagship reform" and an entirely separate issue from the revision of article 16 of the Constitution. He also pointed out that more than 70 pct of the bill concerned measures designed to strengthen state universities.

Referring to the latest developments in SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance at the weekend, Marinakis said the image of disunity presented by the main opposition party during its congress "speaks for itself". More important than the discussion about individuals was the discussion on the policies, he added.

"I think that what we saw these two and half days [during SYRIZA-PA's 4th congress] was the result of all that we lived through when SYRIZA was in government and when SYRIZA-PA was called to play the very important role of main opposition - and I refer more to 2019-2023," he said, accusing the main opposition party of doing "the opposite of what it had promised," and "adopting an extremely toxic rhetoric" that had ended up costing it votes in the general elections.

According to Marinakis, voters were more interested in an "alternative proposal" that both SYRIZA and opposition PASOK-KINAL had so far failed to deliver "and this is not good for the country".

The spokesperson refuted accusations of government "arrogance" and said that Prime Minister Mitsotakis had done "exactly the opposite" even after major electoral victories, while stressing the reforms legislated by the government since the last elections. "To those who say we are opening up too many fronts...the reply is that we are trying to be consistent with what we said before the elections," he said.

On the criticism levelled at Greece at home and abroad regarding the freedom of the press, Marinakis said the government had passed laws that did not allow journalists to be prosecuted for defamation but only for slander and created additional protection for sports journalists against threats.

Asked about the collection of signatures by an association representing the relatives of Tempi train crash victims, demand the abolition of MP immunity and privileges, Marinakis said the tragic accident obviously concerns the government, while he deplored the stance adopted by the opposition parties, accusing them of instrumentalising the pain of the families and stressing that there was "no issue of a cover-up".