Κάθειρξη vs φυλάκιση

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Helleno File

Senior Member
English - UK
I've been following the press reports of the sentencing in the Golden Dawn trial today.

I notice the use of κάθειρξη for imprisonment in some of the sentences. Is this yet another journalistic Greek word to be avoided by learners like me (!) or does it imply longer terms of imprisonment and so have a legitimate use?
 
  • Acestor

    Senior Member
    Greek
    According to the Babiniotis dictionary of synonyms, κάθειρξη is used for longer terms of imprisonment:
    ...επιβάλλεται σε καταδίκες για κακούργημα και μπορεί να κυμαίνεται από πέντε ως είκοσι έτη (οπότε πρόκειται για πρόσκαιρη κάθειρξη), ενώ όταν τα ξεπερνά αποκαλείται ισόβια κάθειρξη.
     

    Helleno File

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Thanks Acestor - I guessed that from the numbers in the reports! :D Would you use it in speech, say, in discussing the trial?

    So it looks like κακούργημα is a more serious crime as in Εφετείο Κακουργημάτων for the Appeal Court in Athens. My Collins dictionary gives "felony" for κακούργημα, which we haven't used in BE for probably at least 100 years. It's still widely used in AE for a serious crime. The British legal system does distinguish between less and more serious crimes, especially in which court a case is heard. But we do not have group nouns for the crimes themselves in terms of seriousness.

    I think it's sometimes commented that legal terms are untranslateable as they depend entirely on definitions laid down in legislation and refined in what we call case law, which of course is different from country to country.
     

    Acestor

    Senior Member
    Greek
    Κακούργημα is about as common as ‘felony’ is in US English. Κάθειρξη, on the other hand, tends to be used in legal text only, as well as news reports referring to court decisions.

    Since you mentioned how ‘felony’ has disappeared from everyday language in the UK (though, I think, it’s still well known from literature), the ODE has an interesting note:

    In the US the distinction between felonies and misdemeanours usually depends on the penalties or consequences attaching to the crime. In English law felony originally comprised those offences (murder, wounding, arson, rape, and robbery) for which the penalty included forfeiture of land and goods. Forfeiture was abolished in 1870, and in 1967 felonies and misdemeanours were replaced by indictable and non-indictable offences
    Felony | Definition of Felony by Oxford Dictionary on Lexico.com also meaning of Felony
     

    Helleno File

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Thanks Acestor. I comment on a Greek language forum and end up learning about the British legal system! :)

    I had no idea that felony was still in legal use as recently as 1967.
     

    ioanell

    Senior Member
    Greek
    does it imply longer terms of imprisonment and so have a legitimate use?
    Surely yes, Helleno File

    According to the new Penal Code (in force as of 11th June 2019) κάθειρξη is imprisonment ranging from 5 (at least) to 15 (maximum) years (and as long as the law explicitly defines it, to life), whereas φυλάκιση is imprisonment ranging from 10 days (at least) to 5 (maximum) years.

    A basic difference between these two kinds of penalty is that the law enables a person sentenced to the penalty of φυλάκιση to convert their penalty to monetary penalty or fine (unless the court forbids it with a specially reasoned decision), whereas the person sentenced to κάθειρξη is definitely led behind the prison bars.

    Of course, the Penal Code makes provisions for alterations in regard with these penalties depending on the peculiarity of cases.
     
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    Helleno File

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Thanks for that full explanation ioanell. I did notice in the reports that some of sentences also added "€5 την ημέρα" which I wondered might be an alternative to imprisonment. I could add some comments about the legal process but that might go outside the remit of this forum!! ;)
     

    Andrious

    Senior Member
    There's also κράτηση, which stands for the time spent in the police station (or headquarters), after you get arrested and before they take you to court. For example, if you spend 1 day in the police station and you 're found guilty, the judge will say «[...] αφαιρεί χρόνο κράτησης μίας ημέρας».
     

    Helleno File

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Thanks for that additional explanation Andrious. I think I remember reading in the reports about some people being "κρατημένοι". Is that right?? Would that be people held by the police? 'Detainee(s)' would be a translation but I think in English that is usually people held outside the normal legal process.
     

    Andrious

    Senior Member
    That would be κρατούμενοι. It's a quite wide term. Τhere are "προσωρινά κρατούμενοι", waiting for their trial, "πολιτικοί κρατούμενοι"... It stands for everyone held, no matter where.
     

    Helleno File

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Thanks for the correction Andrious. :thumbsup:

    We would certainly say 'political detainees' - people probably held outside the normal judicial process - or allegedly so! "Προσωρινά κρατούμενοι" under the English legal system is either 'held in police custody' (no more than a few days, legally defined depending on the offence) or 'remanded in custody' to await trial by a court to a part of a prison where conditions are less strict.
     
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