Several public authorities and other participants carry out different functions throughout the course of criminal proceedings. Let’s get to know them a little better.


Anyone can be the victim of a crime. Don’t think that it only happens to others. A victim of crime is someone who, as a result of an infringement of criminal law, has been subjected to an attack on his/her life or physical or mental integrity, or to emotional distress or material loss. The close relatives of or persons for whom the victim is directly responsible are also considered victims, as are those who suffered any kind of damage as a result of trying to help the victims or stop the crime against them. According to Law 4478/2017 (Article 55) a victim is defined as: (aa) a natural person who has suffered damage, including injury to body or health or damage to honor or morals or financial loss, or deprivation of liberty, directly caused by a criminal offence, (bb) the next of kin of a person whose death was directly caused by a criminal act and who have a claim for compensation for mental suffering under the Civil Code or who were in direct material dependence on that person. (b) ‘Intimate partners’ means spouses, a person living with the victim in a close, stable and continuous heterosexual or homosexual union, engaged couples, and relatives by blood and marriage in a direct line, adoptive parents and adopted children, brothers and sisters and the spouses and fiance(e)s of brothers and sisters, and persons dependent on the victim other than his or her dependent children. So, in short, you are a victim of a crime if you have suffered loss or damage from a crime under our national law. If you were or are a victim of crime, you should report it to the authorities. To find out more about how to report a crime, click here. Victims have rights from their very first contact with the police or other competent authority, during, and after the criminal proceedings. The recognition of victims’ rights is non-discriminatory and applies to crimes that can be prosecuted in the European Union, regardless of the victim’s place of residence or nationality. In addition, victims have the right to be protected throughout the criminal investigation and proceedings. For this reason, the law provide general and special protection for victims. These rights concern the avoidance of contact with the offender, the protection of victims during criminal investigations, the right to privacy, and the individual assessment of victims to determine whether there are grounds for special protection needs. What is the role of the victim in criminal proceedings? In Greece, all victims have the right to participate in criminal proceedings, either under the legal requirement to participate as witnesses after reporting an offence to the Police or the Public Prosecutor’s Office, or as litigants if they so wish. The victim of a crime has many rights and it is important to be aware of them, See the rights here. The rights of victims of crime are a priority for the EU. Read information on the European Strategy on Victims’ Rights here. All victims are subject to a legal requirement to participate as witnesses. If the witness who has filed a criminal complaint (pressed charges), refuses to participate or does not appear in court to testify, he or she may be punished for the offence of failing to testify. The role of victims becomes more active when the victim chooses to participate in criminal proceedings as a party to the prosecution (civil claimant), since he or she will be able to be represented by a lawyer, have access to the case file, the right to appoint an expert, and the right to claim compensation.



The judge is a member of the judiciary who exercises his/her duties independently, deciding only in accordance with the Greek Constitution and the Law. The inspection of ordinary judges shall be carried out by senior judges and by the Prosecutor and the Deputy Prosecutors of the Supreme Court, in accordance with the definitions laid down by law. The Ministry of Justice is responsible for the status of judicial officers. Criminal courts try crimes (criminal offences) and impose sentences on offenders according to the penalties provided for by law. According to the Constitution, Article 96(1): The ordinary criminal courts are responsible for investigating crimes and taking all the measures provided for by the criminal laws. In Greece, the criminal courts include: Supreme Court, Courts of Appeal, Plenary Courts, Courts of Misdemeanors. Various judges may be involved during the course of criminal proceedings: a judge at the investigation stage, in court, and the appellate judges in the courts of appeal and the Supreme Court. During the course of the investigation, in other words at the inquiry and examination stages, the judge may adopt measures to ensure that acts such as the imposition of a restraining order, the carrying out of an expert examination, searches of residential premises do not violate fundamental rights or, if they do, that the investigation justifies them and that they are limited to what is strictly necessary. At the prosecution stage, the investigating judge is responsible for deciding whether or not the decision taken by the prosecution at the end of the investigation stage was appropriate. To this end, he or she will examine the evidence gathered at the investigation stage, as well as any other evidence he or she deems should be gathered, or evidence submitted at the examination stage which he or she deems relevant. After receiving the case file, the judge schedules the date of the trial and issues an invitation or notice to all persons who are to participate in the proceedings. At the trial stage, the judge has two main tasks: - first, to preside over the trial. The judge is responsible for managing the case, making sure that everything runs smoothly and in a disciplined manner, that evidence is provided, and that participants in the proceedings have the opportunity to examine and question it. - second, to decide on the basis of the evidence whether the defendant should be convicted or acquitted and, if convicted, what sentence should be imposed. If there is a claim for damages, the judge must also rule on that claim. The judge is responsible for drafting the judgment, reading it aloud in the courtroom on a scheduled date, and explaining it to the participants in the proceedings, in particular the defendant and the victim, if present. In cases involving the most serious crimes, the court is composed of three judges. In these cases, one of the judges is appointed president and his/her duty is to preside over the trial, but the other two judges may also intervene. The ruling is made by a majority decision of three Judges. One of the responsibilities of the judges of the Court of Appeal is to weigh and decide on appeals submitted to the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. The judge holds a degree in law and has completed a special postgraduate program for judges at the National School for Judges. If you feel a judge has not respected your rights, you should report it to the Supreme Judicial Council.



The Public Prosecutor’s Office is a judicial authority, being the “materially” competent authority which carries out criminal prosecutions on its own initiative or on request. Its first responsibility is to receive reports and allegations of crime and to initiate criminal proceedings. According to the Constitution, the Prosecutor enjoys functional and personal independence. However, he or she is required to obey the orders of the senior prosecutors. For example, the Prosecutor of the Court of Appeal may order the Prosecutor of the Criminal Court to prosecute, but not vice versa. The primary purpose of the prosecutor’s duties is to solve the case. The public prosecutor is the head of the prosecuting authorities and supervises the judicial officers, and prosecutes either on his or her own initiative or on request (following a complaint or indictment). The public prosecutor may issue a public prosecutor’s order requiring the authorities to take certain action if he or she has been informed that a criminal offence has been committed. At the investigation stage, the prosecutor directs and supervises the summary investigation. He or she also has the right to carry out himself/herself any preliminary inquiry, such as taking witness statements, conducting an autopsy, drawing up documents, etc. At the end of the investigation, the police officer in charge of the case forwards all the information collected to the competent public prosecutor. The public prosecutor examines the work done up to that point and forwards the case to the court together with his or her recommendation as to how the proceedings should proceed. After prosecution, and if it is proven during the pre-trial proceedings that the defendant did not commit the act of which he or she is accused, the prosecutor may submit a proposal for the discharge of the defendant to the Judicial Council. The Prosecutor shall take part in the composition of the court and shall speak during the course of the trial, but shall not be entitled to take part in the deliberations leading to the judgment, although he or she shall be responsible for its execution. No decision of a criminal court taken in a public session or council may be valid unless the public prosecutor has first delivered an opinion. Therefore, if during the trial the prosecutor is convinced that the defendant is innocent, he or she must ask the court to acquit him or her. The public prosecutor may appeal against the decisions of the criminal courts. He or she is the only person who can appeal against acquittals (except for judgements where a civil claimant can also seek legal redress). In cases where a victim directly reports a crime to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Public Prosecutor must provide information to the victim, as provided for in Article 57 of Law 4478/2017. If you believe that the prosecutor has not respected your rights, you can report this to a senior prosecutor or to the Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Supreme Court.



Police forces play a key role in ensuring the smooth conduct of criminal proceedings, and this includes close cooperation with judges and the Public Prosecutor’s Office. Firstly, when the police become aware that a crime has been committed following a complaint or report, or if a police officer has witnessed a crime, the police have a duty to inform the Public Prosecutor’s Office as soon as possible so that criminal proceedings can be initiated. However, if there is a risk that relevant evidence may be lost or destroyed, then before informing the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the police must urgently take all necessary steps to prevent this from happening; for example, immediately seizing the vehicle in which a murder took place and which the suspect may wish to hide or destroy in order to conceal any evidence. It is up to the police to continue the investigation under the guidance of the Public Prosecutor’s Office. It is the police who will gather evidence by examining the crime scene, interviewing the victim, the defendant and witnesses, collecting documents, requesting the cooperation of experts, conducting investigations, etc. The Prosecutor may of course take part in any of these. Indeed, some of these measures must in fact be approved or even carried out by the Public Prosecutor or the judge. Usually, however, it is the police who collect the evidence. The Public Prosecutor’s Office may at any time request the case file in order to assess the progress of the investigation. During the investigation, if the victim wishes to provide further information or learn about the case, he or she should contact the police officer responsible for investigating the case. If the victim has been threatened or intimidated or fears for their safety, they should report it to the police authorities. When the investigation is complete, the police send the case file to the Public Prosecutor so that he or she can analyze the evidence gathered. If the case goes to trial, it is normal for the police officers who conducted the investigation to be called as witnesses. They will be questioned about the actions and procedures followed during the investigation, the facts they learned, and the evidence they collected. In most cases, of course, the police officers did not witness the crime but they know a lot about it, and this information can help the court to discover the truth. Keep in mind that police officers cannot tell the court what the defendant, the victim, or the witnesses said when they were questioned during the investigation stage. Domestic Violence Services of the Hellenic Police A new approach to the issue of domestic violence with victims’ rights at its heart has been launched by the Ministry of Citizen Protection. The issue of domestic violence, a crime that affects the everyday lives of citizens and especially vulnerable people, is at the heart of the new violence prevention strategy now being implemented by the Ministry and the Hellenic Police. With this regulation, cases of domestic violence receive specialized support from staff who are properly trained to manage these incidents at prefectural and regional level. The Domestic Violence Services of the Hellenic Police operate throughout the country. The Hellenic Police handle every incident of domestic violence and inform the competent judicial authorities, while at the same time, they provide guidance and information to victims so they can find shelter, medical care, psychosocial and legal support. The operation of the Domestic Violence Services aims towards: Protection and support of victims, including the prevention of secondary victimization. Encouragement and better management of complaints. Prevention and management of crimes of domestic violence. Coordination of all the departments involved and systematic monitoring of cases. Training and ongoing education of the personnel of the Hellenic Police. Raising citizens’ awareness. The new operational structure has a coordinating and supportive character for police services that receive and manage complaints of domestic violence. It includes 73 Services and has the following format: - The Domestic Violence Response Unit of the General Police Directorate of the Hellenic Police Headquarters - The Domestic Violence Offices at the headquarters of the General Police Directorates in the fourteen Regions of the country and at the Police Directorates of each Prefecture Sources: PRESS RELEASE Ministry of Citizen Protection, 4 November 2019; PRESS RELEASE Ministry of Citizen Protection, 15 July 2021. If you think that a member of any police force has not respected your rights, you should report them to the chief commissioner, police inspector, or police officer of the precinct where the incident occurred. You can also inform the relevant Police Directorate or the HQ of the Hellenic Police, or the Greek Ombudsman office. In case of commission of or complicity in crimes on the part of police officers of all ranks, border guards and special guards, you should report this to the Division of Internal Affairs of the Hellenic Police.



Court officers work in the administrative offices of courts and in the offices of the Public Prosecutor’s Office. These officials are responsible for carrying out the orders of the judge and the Public Prosecutor and for carrying out, on their own initiative, certain administrative actions necessary for the proper conduct of the proceedings. The court officer is responsible, among other duties, for: Receiving documents, applications, and other relevant documents, adding them to the case file, and informing the judge and the prosecutor in this regard. Notifying the participants in the proceedings, usually by letter, of the decisions taken by the judge or prosecutor, such as the official charge sheet, the date and place of the trial, and the costs etc. Drafting of the minutes, in other words the description of what happens during the different parts of the proceedings. Before any hearing, calling the names of the persons summoned and notified and informing the judge or public prosecutor about who is present and who is absent. Writing letters confirming attendance at court which are requested by participants in any proceedings to justify their absence from work. During the course of the proceedings, recording the statements of the participants or parties to the proceedings. Court officers working in the offices of the Public Prosecutor’s Office may also take statements from the victim, the defendant, and the witnesses. If the victim wishes to ask questions about the practical aspects of the court’s functioning, he or she can ask the court officer, who must answer using clear and simple language so that the victim can understand the information.



The victim’s lawyer has a duty to assist the victim throughout the legal proceedings: he or she explains how the procedure progresses, provides advice and information on the victim’s rights, and helps the victim to exercise those rights and protect his or her interests. The role that the victim’s lawyer can play in the procedure depends on the position of the victim. If the victim participates in the proceedings only as a witness, the lawyer may accompany him/her whenever the victim’s presence is required and, where necessary, inform the victim of his/her rights, but cannot intervene. If the victim is a party to the proceedings in support of the prosecution (civil claimant), the victim may have a lawyer for the purpose of defending the victim’s right to compensation. It is the responsibility of the lawyer to present the claim and supporting evidence, in particular on the damage caused to the victim, to participate in the trial by questioning the defendant, witnesses, and experts on aspects relating to the claim for compensation and to lodge an appeal if he or she does not agree with the decision on the claim. Being a victim of crime does not mean that you have an automatic right to appoint and pay for a lawyer from the state. The victim is only entitled to apply for legal aid if he or she cannot afford to pay lawyer fees. If you believe that a lawyer has not respected your rights, you should report it to one of the Bar Associations in Greece. There are 63 bar associations in Greece – one at the seat of each court of first instance in the country.



According to Article 75 of Law 4478/2017: Juvenile Probation Service and Probation Service for Adults of the Ministry of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights shall be assigned with the individual assessment of victims of criminal offences in order to determine special protection needs and the protection of minor victims in accordance with this Law and the provisions in force. An Independent Office for Minor Victims – “House of the Child” has been set up at the Athens Juvenile Probation Service and Probation Service for Adults, which shall exercise the powers referred to in the previous article. Independent Offices for Minor Victims – “House of the Child” have been set up at the Juvenile Probation Service and Probation Service for Adults of Thessaloniki and Piraeus, which shall exercise the powers referred to in the previous Article. Independent Offices for Minor Victims – “House of the Child” have been set up at the Juvenile Probation Service and Probation Service for Adults of Patras and Heraklion, which shall exercise the powers referred to in the previous Article. The Departments of the Probation Service and Independent Probation Service Offices of the Ministry of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights shall be responsible for the individual assessment of adult victims of criminal offences in order to determine special protection needs in accordance with this Law and the provisions in force. As such, the Juvenile Probation Service and Probation Service for Adults and the newly established Independent Offices for Minor Victims – “House of the Child” have an important role to play in supporting and protecting adult and child victims during criminal proceedings.



Accused or Defendant is the term given in criminal proceedings to someone who is being investigated on suspicion of committing a crime. A suspect may be named as the accused or defendant by the police, the prosecution, or the judge. From this point on, he/she not only has certain rights but is also bound by a number of obligations. These rights and obligations shall apply throughout the proceedings. The defendant has the right to be present whenever proceedings concerning him/her are conducted or to be heard whenever a decision affecting him/her is to be taken, to be informed, before testifying, of the facts of which he/she is suspected of having committed, to refuse to answer questions about those facts, to be represented by a defence lawyer, to submit evidence, and to appeal against unfavourable decisions. The defendant has the following main duties: to appear before a judge, the Public Prosecutor or the police whenever summoned to do so, to consent to be examined on evidence and not to move from his/her home or to be away from it for more than 5 days without giving notice of the new address or place where he/she can be found. At the trial, the first person asked to report his or her presence is the defendant. The defendant shall be entitled to refuse to testify. However, any statements made at an earlier stage of the case may be used and taken into account by the judge. If the defendant wishes to testify, the judge starts by asking whether or not what is stated in the indictment is true, in other words whether or not the defendant confesses to the crime. The defendant then has the opportunity to give his/her version of what happened and the judge may interrupt to ask certain specific questions. The judge then asks the prosecutor and the lawyers, in turn, to examine or cross-examine the defendant. Unlike witnesses, the defendant does not take an oath, in other words he/she does not undertake to tell the truth. The defendant may be removed from the courtroom while any witness, particularly the victim, is testifying. This occurs when the court believes that the presence of the defendant may prevent the victim from telling the truth or if the victim is under 16 years of age and there are reasonable grounds to suspect that testifying in the presence of the defendant may have serious negative consequences. If the defendant is summoned to appear in court but fails to do so, the trial will continue even in his/her absence and the sentence will be served on him/her at a later stage. If it was not possible to serve the summons because, for example, the defendant’s whereabouts were unknown, this means that the defendant has failed in his or her duty to inform the court of his or her absence from the address given. In this case , the proceedings are suspended while the authorities try to locate him/her. In these cases, the defendant is classified as wilfully disobedient and his/her name is included in a register of wilfully disobedient persons. This entails a range of negative consequences, including arrest warrants issued in their name, the inability to obtain documents such as national identity cards or driving licenses, and possibly confiscation of their property, all with a view to finding them and holding them responsible for the acts they are suspected of having committed.



Anyone who has direct knowledge of facts relevant to the case can be called as a witness, in other words they saw the crime taking place or they know something significant in discovering the truth. In a way, witnesses are indirect victims, as witnessing a crime or a violent situation can cause emotional distress. In principle, anyone who is named as a witness must testify, with a few exceptions: close relatives of the defendant who may refuse to testify, as well as persons bound by professional secrecy, such as journalists, doctors, and lawyers. However, they may be asked to testify if the crime is serious and their testimony is crucial to getting to the truth. Furthermore, according to Article 210 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, “the following persons shall not be examined as witnesses in the hearing: (a) those who have exercised prosecutorial or investigational duties or the functions of inquest clerk in the same case; (b) those who have been brought to trial for the same act until their guilt has been irrevocably established; © those who have been found guilty of the act under trial, even if they have not yet been sentenced”. Any witness called to appear must appear in court on the date and time and at the place given, and follow the instructions given on how to testify and answer the questions truthfully. Otherwise, he or she may be charged with the offence of perjury. Witnesses are not required to give their home address for court notice purposes. They may choose to give their work address or another address to avoid other participants in the proceedings knowing where they live. Witnesses may be accompanied by a lawyer whenever they need to testify. Whenever necessary, the lawyer can inform them of their rights, but cannot intervene in the investigation. On the day of the trial, witnesses are not allowed to be in the courtroom before testifying, so they must wait in the witness waiting area and enter the courtroom only to testify. The defendant may be removed from the courtroom while a witness, particularly the victim, is testifying if the court deems that the defendant’s presence may prevent the witness from telling the truth or if the witness is under 16 years of age and there are reasons to believe that testifying in the defendant’s presence may have serious adverse consequences. If a witness is seriously ill or has to travel abroad and is unable to testify in court, then the judge may decide to examine the witness either at the ordinary investigation stage or at the examination stage, so that his or her testimony can be used in the trial if necessary. The participants in this examination, in addition to the judge, are the prosecutor, the defendant and the defence counsel, and the counsel for the victim and the civil parties. This testimony is recorded and is called a statement for future recall because its purpose is to be used as evidence at trial. Witnesses residing abroad are examined at the local consular authorities. Witnesses shall be entitled to reimbursement of expenses incurred by participating in the proceedings. Witness protection measures may be applied whenever there are risks to the life, physical and psychological integrity of the witness, freedom and property of significant value due to their contribution to the proof of the crime. These measures may be extended to include the relatives of the witness and other persons close to them. Witnesses who are considered particularly vulnerable may benefit from a range of measures to protect them from victimization or intimidation.



An expert witness is someone who is asked to assist in the proceedings when specialised technical, scientific or artistic knowledge is necessary to understand the facts or weigh up the evidence. For example, you may need to ask a doctor to explain the injuries suffered by the victim and how they were caused, or a psychologist or psychiatrist to describe the psychological characteristics of the defendant in order to conduct a personality assessment, or a computer engineer to show how a software program was used to commit the crime. In these cases, the doctor, psychologist, or computer engineer uses their technical and scientific knowledge to better understand what happened. The assistance of expert witnesses shall be requested by the judge or the prosecution, either on their own initiative or at the request of one of the parties to the proceedings, and they shall be remunerated. The expert witnesses first carry out the necessary tests and then write a report with their conclusions on what they have examined and evaluated. If an expert is called to appear at the trial, he or she will testify and answer questions about the examinations carried out and the conclusions drawn from them. According to Article 185 of the Code of Criminal Procedure: The First Instance Judicial Council shall, on a proposal from the Public Prosecutor of First Instance Courts, draw up, within the third ten-day period in September each year, a list of experts by specialty from persons residing at its seat who are qualified to give an expert opinion, giving preference to civil servants. The list includes child psychiatrists and child psychologists and, in their absence, psychiatrists and psychologists specializing in child sexual exploitation and abuse. The list is submitted to the Public Prosecutor of the Court of Appeal, who has the right, in October, to ask the Council of Appeal Court Judges to revise it. The Council of Appeal Court Judges rules on this in November. Once finalized, the list is posted in the hearing room of the Court of Misdemeanors and announced in December of each year by the public prosecutor of first instance courts to the district investigating officers. Each year, until a new list is drawn up, the list drawn up in the previous year shall apply. Similarly, in accordance with Article 204 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, para. 1.: When an ordinary investigation or summary investigation or preliminary inquiry is conducted, the person who orders an expert examination shall at the same time notify the defendant or the suspect or the person supporting the accusation, in accordance with Article 192, of the appointment of the expert witnesses, the time and place of the expert testimony and of its subject matter. When an expert report is conducted by the laboratories referred to in Article 184, the persons referred to above, in accordance with Article 192, shall be notified of its assignment. Within a reasonable time limit set by the appointing authority, they may appoint, at their own expense, a technical consultant chosen from among those qualified to be appointed, in accordance with the law, as experts in the particular case. The persons who made the appointment must notify in writing the person who ordered the expert opinion of the appointment of the technical advisor. The conduct of the expert’s report shall not be impeded by failure to exercise this right within the time limit.



In all criminal proceedings, whether witness interviews or written procedures, such as notifying participants to appear in court, the language used is Greek. When a person who does not speak Greek has to participate in the proceedings, the authority responsible for the proceedings in question shall request the appointment of an interpreter who speaks both Greek and the participant’s language well. For example, if a witness is Russian and does not speak Greek well, an interpreter is appointed whose task it is to translate into Greek what the witness says in Russian and into Russian what is said or requested by the witness. An interpreter is also appointed when it is necessary to translate documents from a foreign language. When a person who is deaf or hard of hearing has to testify, a sign language interpreter shall be appointed. If the witness is unable to speak, the questions shall be posed orally and the witness shall reply in writing. The interpreter plays a key role in ensuring that those involved understand what is being said and participate effectively in the process. The appointment of an interpreter shall be at no cost to the participant requiring this service. The interpreter shall be appointed from a list drawn up by the first-instance judicial council. According to Article 233 – Code of Criminal Procedure (Law 4620/2019) – Appointment of an interpreter: 1. At any stage of the criminal proceedings, when a suspect, defendant, or witness who does not sufficiently speak or understand Greek is to be examined, he or she shall be provided with interpretation without delay. Where necessary, interpretation shall be provided for communication between defendants and their counsel at all stages of the criminal proceedings. The right to interpretation referred to in the above subparagraphs shall include appropriate assistance to persons with hearing or speech impairments. At each stage of the criminal proceedings, the examining magistrate shall ascertain by all appropriate means whether the suspect or defendant speaks and understands the Greek language and whether he or she requires the assistance of an interpreter. The suspect or defendant shall have the right to object to a decision finding that interpretation is not necessary or when the quality of the interpretation is not sufficient. Objections shall be decided on by the public prosecutor in the pre-trial stage, by the Judicial Council in the pre-trial judicial investigation, and by the court in the main proceedings. If necessary, communication technology such as videoconferencing, telephone, or the internet may be used, unless the physical presence of the interpreter is deemed necessary by the examiner.



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