GREECE: Third time lucky for jailed chancellor

Former chancellor of the Athens Pandio University, Emilios Metaxopoulos, will be released from prison after his third successive application to be freed for health reasons was accepted by the National Parole Board. Metaxopoulos was jailed for 25 years following a trial in which he was accused of mismanaging university property in a celebrated €4 million misappropriation of funds case involving several academics and other university staff (See University World News, 13 January 2008). He is suffering from a liver complaint and has been treated for the last three months in the prison hospital under guard.

The latest application by the former chancellor was accepted by the Parole Board on a three-to-two majority vote. District Attorney Xeni Dimitriou disagreed with the decision, claiming Metaxopoulos was given the best possible treatment available and that, if released, he was likely to escape abroad. But the court substituted his prison sentence for release under three conditions: €100,000 bail, prohibition from leaving the country and an obligation to report to his local police station once a month.

Metaxopoulos' brother Kriton, an eminent lawyer, was obviously relieved after the verdict: "Justice discovered its human face even by a majority vote," he said. "The system of justice in Greece considers it more expedient to hold someone in a hospital guarded by 12 prison officers at a cost of a €1 million rather than let him go home and prepare psychologically for a liver transplant which it is not even certain will save his life."

One of the defending lawyers also said after the hearing: 'Today, justice opened a window for life if not one of freedom for Mr Metaxopoulos."

The former chancellor has spent the last seven months in hospital being treated for a severe liver deficiency. Doctors have said his life expectancy is between two and five years unless he has a liver transplant.