NEWS

New twist in Novartis affair as prosecutor implicates gov't official

IOANNA MANDROU

TAGS: Politics, Justice

In the wake of his claims that judicial officials mismanaged and skewed the Novartis bribery probe, Deputy Supreme Court Prosecutor Ioannis Angelis issued a statement on Wednesday suggesting that an unnamed government official influenced the investigation. 

The official is identified only as “Rasputin” and is said to be active in the judicial sector, but, as Angelis notes in his statement, “people are too scared to name him, for obvious reasons.” He added that the official in question has the power to appoint the relatives of people “in the highest echelons of the justice system, possibly even the Supreme Court prosecutor’s people.”  

In his statement, Angelis also elaborates on his original claims of mismanagement by judicial officials as well as an alleged attempt to incriminate 10 Greek politicians of taking bribes from the Swiss pharmaceuticals manufacturer in the absence of any evidence.

Supreme Court Prosecutor Xeni Dimitriou was aware of those alleged violations, he said, adding that he and Dimitriou had briefed Justice Minister Michalis Kaligirou about them. 

On Tuesday, Dimitriou ordered a probe into the handling of the Novartis investigation. Kalogirou meanwhile has ordered a separate disciplinary investigation into Angelis’ claims.  

Dimitriou assigned her probe to another prosecutor, Dimitris Dasoulas, who is to investigate Angelis’ claims against top corruption prosecutor Eleni Touloupaki and other prosecutors working the Novartis case.

Dasoulas is also to probe Touloupakis’ own accusations against Angelis concerning a range of alleged offenses including, for instance, that he took one of her memory sticks. 

Former PASOK minister Evangelos Venizelos, who was among the 10 politicians originally implicated in the Novartis case, said that since Angelis’ claim makes an “an explicit reference to a member of government,” then the “relevant case file must be conveyed to Parliament without delay.” 

He said it is a given that the new Parliament to be elected “after the July 7 election and which will be convened on July 17” will deal with the issue. 

Former conservative premier Antonis Samaras, who, like Venizelos, was also initially implicated in the case, said, in reaction to Angelis’ revelation, that the whole affair was hatched by a “gang” and reiterated that he will not relent until he gets to the bottom of the case. 

Meanwhile, speaking to Alpha TV on Wednesday night, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras described the Novartis case as “one of the most important scandals of our time” that “does no honor” to Greece’s political system. 

Referring to the new leadership of the Supreme Court, which his cabinet announced on May 31, Tsipras said President Prokopis Pavlopoulos will sign the relevant decree, as is dictated by his role and in accordance with the Constitution. 

The legitimacy of the government’s decision to announce a new leadership of the Supreme Court before the national election has been questioned by opposition parties, and New Democracy in particular.

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