Athens, 10 March 2011
Regarding the draft questionnaire compiled by CCPE for the preparation of the 6Ih CCPE Opinion (2011) on the relationships between prosecutors and prison administration in particular in the light of the Recommendation Rec (2006) 2 on the European prison rules, we have the honour to provide the following replies :
1. Introductory remark
The enforcement of custodial sentences or security measures is supervised by the "Supervising Prosecutor". In the four largest prisons (Piraeus, Thessaloniki, Patras and Larissa), the Supervising Prosecutor holds the rank of Deputy Prosecutor for the Court of Appeal and his legal substitute is a Prosecutor for the First Instance Court, who assists him in the performance of his duties (article 572§3 of the Code of Penal Procedure). In the other prisons, supervision is exercised by the Prosecutor for the Magistrate Court (first instance court) of the place where the sentence is served (article 572§1 of the Code of Penal Procedure). In the Juvenile Prison of Athens in particular, supervision is exercised by the Prosecutor for Minors (first instance court). Reply to question 2
The powers of the Supervising Prosecutor are laid down in article 7 of the General Prison Bylaws as follows;
1. In the context of supervision, the prosecutor cooperates with the warden and the chiefs of the various sections of the prison and makes recommendations on matters relating to the enforcement of the sentences.
2. The supervising prosecutor, or his substitute, has powers of jurisdictional, disciplinary and inspecting nature. Specifically, the supervising prosecutor:
1) Sees to the implementation of the provisions, as applicable from time to time, on the treatment of prisoners and the provisions of the Penal Code and special laws relating to the enforcement of sentences and the implementation of security measures;
2) Presides over the Disciplinary Board and the Prisoner Labour Board;
3) Grants special leaves of absence to prisoners for the fulfilment of family, vocational or other emergency and unpredictable needs. To grant special leaves, applicant prisoners must submit written documentation establishing that: (i) the situation is not common and chronic, and (ii) there are no arrangement to cover such needs, similar to those concerning prisoners' healthcare and visits with persons other than relatives up to the fourth degree;
4) Decides on the beneficial calculation of sentence days, on recommendation of the Prisoner Labour Board;
5) Participates in the meetings of the Prison Board by invitation or ex officio;
6) Presides over the Prison Board when the latter meets to decide warden's recommendations on the transfer of a prisoner;
7) Lodges, on discretion, appeals against the decisions of the Prison Board before the Magistrate Council, in its capacity of Sentence Enforcement Court;
8) Participates in the Magistrate Council, in the region of which the prison is located, when it meets as Sentence Enforcement Court, unless it reviews an appeal lodged by the prosecutor against a decision of the Prison Board;
9) Accepts prisoners, their relatives and attorneys in audience on request;
10) Reviews matters of court protection of prisoners, suggesting to concerned parties to take appropriate action, and forwards to competent authorities legal aid requests by prisoners who are financially unable to have access to justice and exercise their defence rights, pursuant to article 33 hereof;
11) Calls the police force to provide any necessary assistance in case of mass prisoner unruliness, riot or resistance to a legitimate order, especially an order to return to and remain in prison cells or wards;
12) Checks increased prison security measures;
13) Lays down restrictions to the living conditions of prisoners in extraordinary cases, in order to ensure the smooth operation and security of the supervised prison;
14) Decides on the admission or not of the children of female prisoners in child care institutions when they became three years old, provided that they are deprived of appropriate relatives, having listened to their parents;
15) Calls for the cooperation of specialised scientific staff and utilises their proposals and the findings of their inquiries, when they relate to his supervision;
16) Sees to the sanitary inspection of the prison regularly, within the first ten days of each quarter, and extraordinarily, at his discretion, and attends such inspection;
17) Orders appropriate measures when the prisoner is unable or refuses to consent to a medical act deemed necessary for his health by the competent physician;
18) Orders appropriate measures, on recommendation of the competent physician, for hunger strike prisoners who face imminent risk to their life or serious and permanent damage to their health, taking into consideration the prisoners' personality, their pursuits and the solidity of their decision;
19) Determines, following a pertinent medical opinion, the treatment dictated by the legal pr actual situation of prisoners awaiting trial;
20) Invites physicians of appropriate specialty to examine prisoners, when such a physician does not serve in the prison and cannot be found, out of a list of visiting physicians and nurses, on recommendation of the prison warden;
21) Takes any other action provided for by these bylaws and monitors compliance herewith.
Reply to question 3
Reply to question 4
Conducting preliminary inquiries and transmitting the case file and the relevant findings to: (a) the prosecutor who initiates criminal proceedings, for evaluation of the initiation or not of criminal proceedings, (b) the Ministry of Justice, for disciplinary treatment of prison staff.
Reply to question 5
Prosecutors may conduct the preliminary inquiries referred to in reply 4 above, accept prisoners, their relatives or attorneys in audience at their request, review matters of court protection of prisoners by suggesting appropriate action thereto, forward to competent authorities legal aid requests by prisoners with little financial means, conduct sanitary inspections in prisons.
Reply to question 6
Better infrastructures and increase in human resources, enriching them with other specialities, such as criminologists and interpreters, due to the large number of non-national prisoners.
Reply to question 7
Reply to question 8
Reply to question 9
They examine and submit proposals to the Ministry of Justice, but have no direct influence on the relevant budget. Moreover, they have no direct powers: (a) to make funds available for improvement of accommodation, (b) to deal with the overcrowding of prisons. These matters are regulated by the Ministry of Justice. As regards prison overcrowding, alternative sentences (e.g. increase of limits for conditional suspension, conversion, payment of the conversion sum in instalments, provision of community work) have been recently (December 2010) introduced for custodial sentences (10 days to 5 years).
Reply to question 10
The prison supervising prosecutor has the powers mentioned in reply 4.
Reply to question 11
In the four largest prisons (Piraeus, Thessaloniki, Patras, Larissa), the supervising deputy prosecutor for the Court of Appeal or his substitute, prosecutor for the Magistrate Court, visit the prisons every day. In other prisons, the local prosecutor for the Magistrate Court or his substitute makes visits twice a week. However, if so warranted by the circumstances (e.g. incidents, need to make an extraordinary inspection), visits can be carried out at any time.
Reply to question 12
Reply to question 13
Yes (e.g. research for narcotics or weapons).
Reply to question 14
Yes, inquiries are conducted by the prison supervising prosecutor and, as regards the criminal part; the case is transmitted to the locally competent prosecutor for the first instance court. Denunciations or complaints cannot be investigated by prison staff against whom such denunciations or complaints are made.
Reply to question 15
The investigation is conducted by the prosecutor acting as an independent judicial authority, either by himself or under his orders and instructions by the competent preliminary investigation officers (such as junior prosecutors or justice court judges), i.e. by persons unrelated to prisons.
Reply to question 16
Yes. Prison supervising prosecutors can issue relevant orders e.g. relating to restrictions to living conditions in prison. High risk detainees may be transferred to other prisons, according to the decision of the Central Transfers Committee of the Ministry of Justice.
Reply to question 17
They are autonomous. In case of objections to the enforcement of a sentence, they are introduced to and heard, by the Three-member Magistrate Council sitting at the place of detention.
Reply to question 18
Not in amnesty (which is only provided for political offences and is decided by Parliament with the special majority of 3/5). In case of requests for pardon or elimination of consequences of criminal sentence, the prosecutor who participated in the court that delivered the sentence (or, if he has resigned from service, his substitute) expresses his opinion in writing to the Pardon Boards of the Ministry of Justice. All Prosecutor Services for the First Instance Court have a Criminal Records Section supervised by the prosecutor for the first instance court.
Reply to question 19
Reply to question 20
The prison supervising prosecutor may set restrictions to the living conditions of detainees in exceptional cases for security reasons. In his capacity of chairman of the Three-member Prison Disciplinary Board, he decides together with the other two members on disciplinary sanctions against detainees, such as solitary confinement, granting regular or educational leaves of absence. He can grant extraordinary leaves of absence for special reasons, as determined by the Penitentiary Code. He decides on the beneficial calculation of sentence days, on recommendation of the Prisoners Labour Board.
He lodges, at discretion, appeals against the decisions of the Prison Board before the Three-member Magistrate Council (sitting at the place of sentence enforcement), in its capacity of sentence enforcement court. The Three-member Magistrate Council consists of three judges and is attended by a prosecutor, who must be heard before the delivery of the judgment.
The supervising prosecutor participates in the Three-member Magistrate Council, when the latter meets as Sentence Enforcement Court, unless it reviews an appeal lodged by the prosecutor against a decision of the Prison Board, in which case another prosecutor participates in the Magistrate Council.
When a prisoner has served the prescribed minimum sentence, the supervising prosecutor shall, at the prisoner's request, submit a proposal to the Magistrate Council for the conditional release of the prisoner.
Only the prosecutor for the court of appeal is entitled to appeal against the said decisions of the Three-member Magistrate Council.
Reply to question 21
Not applicable to us.
Reply to question 22
No. the questionnaire is satisfactory.
Deputy Prosecutor for the Supreme Court