Greece: Statement of the lawyer of D. Koufontinas about his transfer


Received 28/02/2021

Ioanna Kurtovic, Lawyer, Statement about the transfer of D. Koufontinas 28.02.2021

To whom it may concern

To put things into perspective regarding the transfer of D. Koufontinas.

For two days now, with repeated announcements from government officials, the Prime Minister himself, but also “civil society bodies” (completely coincidentally, in the same line), the detainee Dimitris Koufontinas has been accused of not having exercised the legal means he is entitled to to request his transfer to Korydallos prison and that he is choosing suicide!

They are lying. And we have to point out the following:

Immediately after his transfer to Domokos prison, the detainee submitted to the secretariat an application for his transfer to Korydallos, according to the provisions of Law 4760/20, which as we were assured by prison officials was forwarded to the Ministry, on 11/1/2021 with protocol number 23624.

This request has not been answered to date.

In addition, since 28/12/20, the detainee has requested to be given a copy of the transfer decision, which until then he knew belonged to the Minister for Prisons (Ms. Nikolaou) and not to the legally responsible institution, which is the Central Transfer Committee (KEM).

In her letter, Ms. Nikolaou stated that there was a decision by the KEM, based on which the detainee had been transferred to Korydallos, and the transfer to Domokos was her own decision, all the while refusing to provide copies (of these transfers)

This statement, according to which, within just one hour, he had been transferred to Korydallos and successively to Domokos, was the one that pushed the prisoner to go on hunger strike.

A request for copies of those decisions was submitted by me electronically, again, on 17/1/21, with an explicit reference to the exercise of legal claims.

The same request was addressed by the Greek Ombudsman, on 21/1/21, in its well-known intervention in the case.

On 18/2, the Minister for Prisons sent us an exact copy of her own decision, but not of the decisions of the KEM she was referring to and basing her decision on, rendering us unable to challenge her decisions. The legal framework for appeals of a KEM decision to the judiciary is provided by article 9 par. 4 of the Penitentiary Code, and is applicable when the detainee has had two negative outcomes in his / her request for transfer (who said that detainees do not have the right to request transfer to another prison?):

-not when the transfer is decided by the KEM itself, ex officio,

– especially not when it is decided by the minister for Prisons,

– not when the relevant Court is the Court of Volos that had the audacity, following public incitement from the current Prime Minister himself to “stand up to Koufontinas” and overturn a decision of the Supreme Court that granted Koufontinas the right to short leaves from prison,

– not when the administrative courts responsible for administrative decisions are completely unaware of the penitentiary code and do not even have the evidence of the contested decisions,

– not when the District Court of Lamia (legally irrelevant anyway), is unable to rule freely under the mounting political pressure by the ND (New Democracy) governor of its district and the prime minister himself.

The new non-paper from the government sent to the MPs of ND for dealing with the communication challenges of a dead hunger striker, while urging them “to say that he has not used his legal means to appeal the case to the court before going on hunger strike”, has misled even the prime minister.

The leaders of the propaganda group that wrote this note should read the law before they dare to use it, at least so as not to ridicule their party executives.

Or maybe for them, the government’s legal view of “this is what I want, this is what I will do” prevail and legitimises the arbitrariness of their choices?

Does it legitimise even the barbarity of a death sentence?

Athens, 28/2/2021
Ioanna Kurtovic