NEWS

Novartis case crumbles further

IOANNA MANDROU

TAGS: Politics, Corruption

The cases against most of the politicians implicated in the alleged Novartis bribery scandal will be shelved next week due to a lack of evidence, according to judicial sources on Tuesday.

After prosecutors on Monday cleared four of the 10 politicians of receiving bribes – former ministers Evangelos Venizelos, Andreas Lykouretzos and Giorgos Koutroumanis and former premier Panagiotis Pikrammenos – sources say the cases will also be shelved against four of five other implicated politicians – former New Democracy premier Antonis Samaras, former finance minister and current Bank of Greece Governor Yannis Stournaras, European Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, and former minister and current vice president of New Democracy Adonis Georgiadis.

Former PASOK health minister Andreas Loverdos, the only one of the 10 politicians whose name remains on the case file that corruption prosecutors sent to Parliament on Monday, said his implication was a “vile plot” hatched by “a gang of criminals.” 

New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis denounced the whole affair as a “scam” orchestrated by the government, which he accused of “systematically” undermining democracy.

“The Novartis scam with which the government tried to implicate 10 politicians is, unfortunately, just one indicative example of how the government perceives institutions and the rule of law,” Mitsotakis said Tuesday  during a meeting with ambassadors of European Union states.

The opposition conservative party has also pledged that those behind the scam will be held accountable.

The gradual unraveling of the case is seen to have dealt a serious blow to the narrative pushed by the government that it was the “biggest scandal since the establishment of the Greek state.” 

New Democracy spokeswoman Sofia Zacharaki said the government “fabricated” the scandal to divert the public’s attention from the controversial name deal signed last year with North Macedonia. Her remarks came in the wake of comments made earlier in the day by government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos, who accused both New Democracy and PASOK of attempting to intimidate judicial authorities into dropping the case. 

“The very same people who verbally defend the independence of the judicial authorities... have not hesitated... to speak of fabrications and fixed trials,” he said.

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