Parliament debates investigation over Novartis bribery case

TAGS: Justice, Politics

Greek lawmakers were debating Wednesday whether to launch an investigation into 10 senior politicians – including two former prime ministers, the current central bank governor and a European commissioner – over allegations by prosecutors that they accepted bribes from the Swiss drug maker Novartis.

The debate will culminate in a vote, expected to stretch into the early hours of Thursday, on whether to investigate each of the 10.

Under Greek law, Parliament must first investigate allegations against lawmakers before they can be stripped of immunity and prosecuted by judicial authorities.

The allegations against the politicians stem from testimonies made by protected, anonymous witnesses.

All those implicated have denied any involvement, and at least four have filed criminal lawsuits against the protected witnesses.

Critics have accused the SYRIZA-led government of a witch hunt, noting that there is no concrete evidence connecting the two former premiers and eight former ministers to the scandal.

European Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, who was Greece’s health minister from 2006 to 2009, is in New York for a meeting but has sent a written statement in which, according to sources cited by Kathimerini, he rejects the allegations against him, while asking the Supreme Court prosecutor to allow the identities of three protected witnesses to be revealed.

[AP, Kathimerini]