With a growing use of military assault rifles by robbers in a rising number of crimes across Greece, the government is proposing life sentences for the use of the automatic weapons, which have flooded into the country from bordering Albania, authorities said.
Under the draft legislation, the new penalties will apply for those using the Russian-designed AK-47, or Kalashnikov, rifle and other similar weapons. Current laws provide 10-25 years in prison in such cases.
The inexpensive Kalashnikovs have become increasingly popular with Greek criminals, who use them to rob kiosks, supermarkets or homes — heavily out-gunning local police. Such attacks have grown since the country’s acute financial crisis started three years ago.
The looting of military bases in Albania in 1997 led to thousands of the rifles being stolen and being put into the black market for sale. Greek police responding to robberies have found themselves under heavy fire and last year two officers were gunned down when they tried to catch the robbers of a kiosk.