NEWS

ASA decries second annulment of former chief statistician's acquittal

TAGS: Economy, Justice

The American Statistical Association Board (ASA) issued a strongly-worded statement on Friday decrying a Greek top court’s third attempt to prosecute the former head of Greece’s statistical service, ELSTAT, Andreas Georgiou.

The Supreme Court’s criminal section accepted on Monday a prosecutor’s appeal against the acquittal of Georgiou who had been accused of falsifying budget data in order to justify Greece’s first international bailout.

His case will go before the Council of Appeals Court Judges which has already cleared him twice of any wrongdoing.

“The decision by Greece’s supreme court, announced May 14, to annul the acquittal of its 2010–2015 chief statistician, Andreas Georgiou, for complicity against the state is an injustice to Georgiou, Greece, and Greece’s economy,” the US statistics authority said.

The annulment of the May 26, 2017 acquittal is the second such annulment, meaning Georgiou now faces triple jeopardy, ASA continued, noting that, time and again, Georgiou’s methods and statistics have been endorsed by the international community.

ASA warned that the continued prosecution of Georgiou undermines the current production of Greek statistical figures, “the accuracy and objectiveness of which are paramount for attracting foreign investment and ending Greece’s cycles of economic crises.”

“The repeated rejections of acquittals also violate Georgiou’s scientific freedom and human rights. These basic freedoms and rights are essential for our profession and our professionals,” it said and urged Greek officials to end these unjust prosecutions “for the good of all.”

The international statistical, economic, and finance community has rallied around Georgiou to fight the charges for statistical work which ASA said had been performed accurately and in good faith following international standards.

The case is widely regarded as political persecution and has drawn criticism from Greece’s international creditors, who last summer demanded that the issue be settled and Georgiou’s legal costs paid by the state before signing off on bailout funding.

Eurostat, the European Union’s official statistics service, has issued a series of statements over the years defending Georgiou and his figures.

In a letter sent earlier this year, 46 organizations and more than 1,100 individuals—including nine Nobel Laureates and many other influential figures—urged Greek authorities to drop its prosecutions of Georgiou and his colleagues, exonerate them of past convictions, drop ongoing investigations relating to their official work, and apologize for “the appalling treatment they have endured” over a protracted period.

Besides the statement signed by 46 organizations and more than 1,100 individuals, there is a crowdfunding effort to help Georgiou with his mounting legal costs. More information is available at: www.tinyurl.com/SupportGeorgiou.

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