In an interview with, Justice Minister Giorgos Floridis talks about the issues that have plagued the the justice system for decades in Greece, touches on the proposed revisions to the penal code and expresses his optimism that long delays plaguing the country’s court system will soon be a thing of the past.

  1. What is the biggest issue for justice in Greece today?

Without a doubt, the delay in judicial decisions. Today, a verdict takes up to four years to be rendered. The reforms we are implementing across the entire spectrum of justice aim to reduce this time to 1,5 years, which reflects the average time of the member states of the EU.

  1. The issue of delays in the administration of justice in our country is very serious and one of the biggest obstacles to development in Greece. Do you think it can be overcome? And in what ways? We have as a country and as citizens an intolerance to reforms.

I believe we will succeed. The task of justice acceleration is difficult and demanding, but we are working with a combined and systematic plan in four areas simultaneously: a) Legislative changes in the overall procedural framework of Justice b) Implementation of the New Judicial Charter of the country, which reorganizes the structure and functioning of judges and courts c) Completion of the Digital Justice projects and procedures d) Strengthening and renewal of the logistical infrastructure of the courts for a more efficient organization and functioning of the judiciary.

As far as changes and reforms are concerned, the main obstacle, not only in our country, is the fear of those involved. That is why preparation, deep knowledge, persuasion, consensus and a high degree of involvement in all stages of change are needed: from the adoption, to the implementation process and then to completion. For the judiciary in particular, I would point out something very positive: The changes that are being made are very mature and have a positive impact on everyone: the institution, the citizens and the country.

  1. After a crime, citizens often talk about tightening up sentences, about quick releases. There is a strong feeling of impunity in our country. Will this change, Mr. Minister, with the changes in the new penal code?

The Bill on the changes to the Criminal Code that is being discussed in Parliament these days is not aimed at tightening up sentences. In particular, it does not increase the misdemeanor penalties from the level they are already at. What it does do is reduce the suspensions in serving sentences so that offenders are not immediately released and repeat offences, which invalidates both the preventive and deterrent nature of the penalties. In conclusion, with the New Criminal Law we want sentences to be served rather than being fictitious.

We believe that serving in whole or in part the sentence is precisely what combats and reduces the feeling of impunity that disturbs citizens and erodes our society.

  1. A big bet not only for the judiciary but for the country as a whole is the digitalisation of its services. What changes are being promoted in this area that will improve the daily life of citizens who have cases before the judiciary and the investment sector?

This period offers an important opportunity for the Greek judicial system to modernise, with the digitalisation of its procedures and services and to enter the 21st century for good. The digital projects that are being carried out are financed by the Recovery Fund and the EU Structural Funds up to an amount of 220.000.000 euros.

These projects will simplify, harmonise and interconnect the administrative and judicial procedures of all justice institutions, resulting in a better relationship between citizens and their judicial affairs. They will also liberate the country from restrictions and obstacles in its investment and economic relations with the international community.

  1. The ex-officio procedure for the prosecution of bank executives and executives of the State and legal persons under public law, which had been abolished, is being reinstated. Why do you consider this important?

It was our programmatic commitment for reasons of equality in law to provide for the horizontal provision of ex officio prosecution for all felonies regardless of the entity of the protected legal interest.

  1. When will the trial for the Tempi railway accident begin? Has there not been a long delay?

The tragic accident in Tempi and the answers that the victims’ relatives are demanding from the judiciary was one of the issues for which the Ministry of Justice took initiatives from the very first moment in order to speed up the judicial development of the case.

In the new Code of Criminal Procedure we are making an important change, where we are removing the obligation to have a pre-trial, that is the obligation to issue a judgement, for these offences. We are thus allowing the public prosecutor, once the interrogation is completed, to take the case straight to the hearing.

The trial is therefore set to take place in June, in record time compared to the procedures that have prevailed up to now, precisely because we have brought in this provision that changes the Code, otherwise we would again have a long delay in a very critical case.