The conservative government announced Friday it intends to pardon nearly all of the imprisoned leaders of the 1967-74 right-wing dictatorship.
The announcement to free seven of the eight former military leaders outraged socialists, communists and other leftists, thousands of whom were jailed or exiled during the dictatorship. Many politicians and other citizens were tortured.Andreas Papandreou, whose socialist government ruled from 1981 to 1989, denounced the decision as an "insult to those that fought and died for democracy in our country."
Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis proposed the pardon for humanitarian reasons after meeting with President Constantine Caramanlis. Justice Minister Athanassios Kanellopoulos said the ministry's pardons committee will discuss it Monday, and approval was expected.
According to practice, a pardon is proposed by the government and approved by the committee, clearing the way for a presidential decree.
Eight members of the junta are serving prison terms ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment for their involvement in the military coup. Since their sentencing by a special court in 1975, they have refused to apply for pardons.
The only junta member left out of the proposed pardon was Dimitris Ioannides, who engineered a failed 1974 coup in nearby Cyprus, a disaster that led to the partition of the Mediterranean island and Greece's return to civilian rule.
Those serving life sentences include former Col. George Papadopoulos, 71, who led the April 1967 army coup in Greece; his brother Constantine, 69; and Ioannides, 67, a former brigadier who in turn overthrew Papadopoulos. They were originally sentenced to death for high treason.