Huge backlog of criminal cases
A report compiled by the Athens Prosecutor’s Office showed that, every year, 140,000 criminal charges are filed at the office, a huge number that explains the backlog of cases pending in the country’s judicial system. These cases are investigated by just 12 prosecutors, which means that each prosecutor has to handle 11,500 criminal charges a year.
“Criminal justice in Greece is currently in a state of procedural emergency, due to the slowness of the criminal procedure,” Antonios Eleftherianos, who conducted the investigation, said at the presentation of the report. “To deal with the problem, a radical amendment of the relevant provisions is required,” he continued, noting that whatever changes in the last few years were made did not work.
The research shows that from 2018 to 2022, the total of lawsuits filed in Athens alone reached 700,000. Of these, 240,000 made their way to the court room without the need for any further investigation, 270,000 were filed after the perpetrators were not found, and 140,000 resulted in a preliminary examination.
According to Eleftherianou’s report, a prosecutor’s investigation will take, at best, a whole year. It is interesting that, of the 200,000 preliminary investigations carried out by the Athens Prosecutor’s Office from 2018 to 2022, for 53,000 cases (approximately 1/4) prosecutors ordered a further investigation and the one year increased to two, three or more.
The lengthy investigation is followed by an equally lengthy interrogation and trial, all of which can stretch the time from the initial filing of the criminal charges until the end of the appeal trial to as much as 10 years.