Parliament on Monday night rejected the proposal submitted by opposition New Democracy to set up a committee to investigate claims by a convicted drug smuggler that Defense Minister Panos Kammenos tried to pressure him into testifying against prominent businessman Vangelis Marinakis.
In the debate before the vote, which saw 151 lawmakers against the proposal and 122 in favor, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras gave his full backing to Kammenos, who is also leader of the junior coalition partner, right-wing nationalist Independent Greeks (ANEL).
And in what developed into an acrimonious showdown between the ruling leftist government and the opposition conservatives, Tsipras took a swipe at New Democracy and its leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis over what he described as the attempted “character assassination” of Kammenos.
However, conservatives lambasted Tsipras for not giving any answers as to how a minister can get away with having phone conversations about narcotics with a prisoner serving a life sentence in the first place.
The ANEL leader was also attacked by opposition lawmakers for his allegedly “provocative” activities during a recent visit to London, which included staying at luxury hotels and playing roulette.
Mitsotakis accused Tsipras of repeatedly covering Kammenos’s back.
“Tsipras has covered [Kammenos’s] back many times,” said Mitsotakis, insisting that both men were trapped in a symbiotic relationship of sorts.
“You have become each other’s hostages. You are so bound up together that your are dragging each other down,” Mitsotakis said, addressing both men.