Greece to allow CCTV, DNA database (AP)
ATHENS, Greece — Greece’s parliament has approved measures allowing police to use surveillance camera footage and create a DNA database, angering opposition parties that say the new powers will trample on people’s privacy.
The measures by the conservative government follow massive riots in December and a surge in bombings and shooting attacks by domestic militant groups.
Parliament late Wednesday also approved a proposal that will oblige prepaid mobile-phone users to register their identities by June 30, 2010.
Under the new measures, street camera footage and audio will be stored for seven days, while DNA samples will be collected from suspects in all criminal cases “when there are serious indications the person in questions has carried out the offense.”
If acquitted, the suspect’s DNA evidence will be destroyed, but if they are convicted, DNA profile data will be stored in a police database for the rest of their life.
Greece has had strict privacy laws, and officials say a network of surveillance cameras set up in Athens for the 2004 Olympics is currently only used for monitoring traffic.
Opposition parties and the Athens Bar Association on Thursday said the new police powers could threaten personal freedoms, arguing that public money would be better spent on improved police training.
The use of (surveillance cameras in other countries did not reduce the crime rate,” said Christos Papoutsis, parliamentary leader for the main opposition Socialist party.
“You are working to create a climate of fear among citizens and you are investing in this politically.”
The Athens Bar Association said street cameras could be used to gather evidence against people taking part in peaceful demonstrations.
“Our more serious objection is to the widespread collection of genetic data, even in cases of minor offenses,” a statement said.
Greece was rocked by major riots last December, triggered by the police’s fatal shooting of a teenage boy.
The riots left hundreds of stores damaged and looted and were followed by a series of terrorist attacks claimed by local far-left militant groups.
On June 17, an anti-terrorist policeman guarding a witness ,was shot dead by at least two gunmen. Police matched one of the weapons used to a gun used in previous attacks by terrorist group Sect of Revolutionaries.