Seven former board members of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival, including the northern port city's mayor and a deputy mayor, have been indicted to trial over the alleged misappropriation of funds while at the helm of the leading cultural event in 2011-2014.
Apart from Thessaloniki Mayor Yiannis Boutaris and Deputy Mayor Spyros Pegas, one of the festival's longest-serving directors, Dimitris Eipidis, is also among the seven defendants named by a Council of Appeals Court Judges to stand trial.
The charges of misappropriation concern allegations, one the one hand, that Eipidis was receiving two salaries instead of one, being paid for acting as both director and artistic director. The second part of the case pertains to the alleged illegal payment of special benefits to two festival employees.
According to the judges, the festival's former director received over 118,000 euros that he was not entitled to in the years from 2011-2014, damaging the state-funded festival. Boutaris, who resigned from the post of board chairman in 2013, is accused of misappropriating over 96,000 euros.
The Thessaloniki mayor has defended himself by saying that the salary paid to Eipidis had been decided by the former board and had never come into question by the festival's financial services, the Ministry of Culture or the state's supervisory mechanisms. “It was an existing state of affairs when I was brought on board,” he said.