by Ioanna Mandrou
A few days ago, there was some shocking news. An Egyptian court asked lawmakers to approve the live broadcast of the hanging of a man who stabbed a female university student to death. The idea was to deter similar crimes from happening in the future, making it clear that crimes involving female victims will be punishable by death in public view.
the state must ensure that the sentences imposed for serious crimes are served. For example, life imprisonment, the maximum sentence in all European countries, is a very heavy sentence...
Lately, in Greece, murders of women have taken on the characteristics of an epidemic. Dozens of women, young and old, have lost their lives at the hands of their husbands or partners. These heinous crimes have caused some people – some of them members of the justice system – to advocate for the death penalty to be reinstated. Oftentimes, relatives of victims angrily disapprove of the life sentence which is imposed in courts and demand the death penalty for the perpetrators.
But is the death penalty a penalty? Certainly not. Punishments have ceased to be a kind of revenge against the offender. They are punitive measures, which of course also involve a great moral reprehension that the law and society reserve for criminal behavior that ends the right to live or brutally insults a person’s personality.
But no matter how serious a crime, no matter how indignant and enraged we may be, we cannot go so far as to call for the reinstatement of the death penalty. The past is not the answer. On the other hand, however, the state must ensure that the sentences imposed by the courts for serious crimes are served. For example, life imprisonment, the maximum sentence in all European countries, is a very heavy sentence, as long as it is not completed in a few years.
A life sentence cannot really mean for life, but it cannot mean 16 years in jail for certain heinous criminal behaviors either. Amendments in recent years have attempted to improve the law so that lifers stay longer in prison. For example, the amendment that concerned the case of November 17 terrorist Dimitris Koufodinas, who is serving 11 life sentences, and its interpretation by the courts was correct. He should be released from prison after 25 years and not 20. In other words, the 20 years should apply to those serving one life sentence and not numerous terms.
The law can make such differentiations for other cases as well, such as femicide, to avoid leaving society with a sense that justice was not served – which would dilute society and democracy.