No Death Penalty In Greece As Of 1994

Posted: January 29, 1999

Her husband was asked about "closure" - that amorphous, almost unemotional term psychologists use to describe the process of healing a terrible wound.

"There's not going to be closure on this," said Timothy Nist, the heartbroken ex-husband of dismembered model Julie Marie Scully.

"Not for any of us - not for the rest of our lives."

Instead, Nist and the Scully family and the once-happy couple's 3-year-old daughter will have to settle for the best a murder victim's kin can hope - a measure of justice.

And in Greece - where the beautiful model was strangled, incinerated and hacksawed, allegedly at the hands of cruise ship maintenance man Georgos Skiadopoulos - that does not include the ultimate retribution.

Death.

Capital punishment was abolished in 1994.

Greek authorities arraigned Skiadopoulos yesterday on a charge of premeditated murder, which carries a life sentence on conviction. A life sentence usually means at least 25 years in prison.

Skiadopoulos also could face additional charges that could land the 24-year-old in prison for the rest of his life, authorities said.

In the United States, trials can last for weeks and juries decide guilt or innocence. The Greek system is different, explained Theodore Simon, the noted Philadelphia-based criminal defense lawyer and chairman of the international law committee of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

He said a three-judge panel hears testimony after receiving written arguments from both sides prior to trial. Trials generally last no longer than a couple of days.

While the Greek system has plea-bargaining, the non-jury system records high conviction rates. The Greek system also allows victims of crimes to seek compensation for pain and suffering and loss of life, even if they are resident aliens, as Scully was when she was slain 370 miles north of Athens.

"The party responsible has a duty to pay an indemnity to the family," Simon said. "Of course, this is no relief to the family, that they have available recourse in the legal system. It's just a horrible tragic circumstance."

Last night, Nist made plans to fly to Greece to bring back the body of his ex-wife. He was hoping for a chance to confront the man charged with depriving his daughter of a mother.

"I just want to ask `Why?' " he told reporters.

And Julia Scully, the slain model's mom, helped make funeral arrangements. She had already moved beyond why, to her own version of justice:

"I would take his body apart into pieces, while he was alive, and let him feel the pain my daughter felt," she said.

Send e-mail to nolanj@phillynews.com

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