Electronic tag provides way out for Romanos

Doctors and administration officials at the Giorgos Gennimatas general hospital in northern Athens brief the press on Wednesday on the health of Nikos Romanos.

A pilot scheme to electronically tag prisoners on furlough is due to start in two months after it emerged as a compromise between authorities and anarchist Nikos Romanos, who ended his 30-day hunger strike on Wednesday after a related amendment was passed through Parliament.

The trial of the ankle bracelets had been due to start in August but was held up due to legal obstacles. However, opposition parties urged Justice Minister Haralambos Athanasiou to offer Romanos the option of wearing a tag so he could study at Athens Technical College, where he gained a place in the summer. The 21-year-old had indicated to his lawyer that he would accept this as a solution.

Romanos, a convicted bank robber, started to refuse liquids on Wednesday after the original amendment submitted by Athanasiou allowed prisoners to follow courses via distance learning only. President Karolos Papoulias also intervened in the matter, calling Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to urge him to find a solution to the deadlock.

“This is a solution that is in line with our legal system, it secures the right to education and does not weaken the state’s efforts to fight crime,” said Athanasiou after the amendment was backed by all parties bar Golden Dawn and New Democracy MPs Adonis Georgiadis and Thanos Plevris.

Prisoners who want furloughs to study will only be allowed to do so after successfully following their courses for six months via distance learning. The option of being tagged will not be open to those convicted of treason, being part of a terrorist organization or criminal gang, murder, drug trafficking or sex crimes.

The measure is not just being introduced to help inmates study, it also has the aim of helping decongest Greek prison. Some 200 inmates, including...

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