Greece’s relevant justice minister on Tuesday promised a changes in the country criminal code to make the theft or vandalism of railway infrastructure and materials a felony, even carrying a maximum sentence allowed in cases where a fatality results.

Minister Costas Tsiaras said upgraded offenses will include the illegal practice of fencing of stolen rail infrastructure, while he promised to table the draft law revisions in Parliament as soon as possible.

Wholesale theft of copper electrical cables along tracks, as well as the pilfering of every other possible type of movable and immovable railways material has plagued Greece’s tracks and stations for almost two decades. Organized groups of “metal scavengers” are ubiquitous and particularly bold in their criminal activity along remote stretches of tracks.

Vandalism is also wide-spread.

Tsiaras was also stringing in his criticism of main opposition SYRIZA, charging that the latter leftist party, when in power, revised the criminal code to downgrade theft of rail infrastructure from a felony into a misdemeanor. He reminded that the SYRIZA government’s controversial criminal law revision came days before a general election in July 2019 that the latter duly lost.

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