Former minister Evangelos Venizelos sues protected witness in Novartis affair

TAGS: Politics, Justice

Former socialist minister and ex PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos on Tuesday resorted to legal action over a prosecutors' report alleging that he and another nine Greek politicians accepted bribes from Swiss drugs manufacturer Novartis.

In comments to the Athens-Macedonia news agency, Venizelos said he had lodged a legal suit against one of the three protected witnesses on which the prosecutors' case was built.

The witness, Venizelos said, "spluttered out my name in a way that is self-evidently mendacious."

"The blatant perjury and slander are the least of the matter," he said, adding that "an abuse of power has been committed against me."

"They exposed me to persecution even though they knew that I was only innocent but completely unconnected to the matter," he added.

The developments of the past two weeks, including the submission of the prosecutors' report to Parliament, "had been heralded by the prime minister and his ministers a year ago," Venizelos said.

"What is happening in the judiciary -- a mixture of justice and politics – is a much more serious issue than the failure to secure a so-called "clean exit" for the economy and than slippages as regard national issues and foreign policy," he added.

Earlier this month, former conservative prime minister Antonis Samaras sued Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, the alternate justice minister ansd prosecutors over the allegations.

A vote is to be held in Parliament on Wednesday on whether a committee should be created to probe the 10 politicians.