NEWS

Committee probing Novartis removes two SYRIZA MPs over witness status

TAGS: Politics, Corruption

A special parliamentary committee inquiring into the merit of claims of political interference in the Novartis bribery case removed on Tuesday two lawmakers of the main opposition, due to their status as potential witnesses in the case.

Dimitris Tzanakopoulos and Pavlos Polakis from SYRIZA will have to be replaced by two other party MPs.

The committee cited a 2010 opinion of the House's scientific council which argued that people who will be called as witnesses in the investigated case or ministers whose acts or omissions fell within the scope of the committee's probe should be excluded.

Tzanakopoulos, a government spokesman with the previous administration, has been proposed by the committee as a witness because in February 2018 he paid a visit to Supreme Court prosecutor Xeni Dimitriou to inquire about the ongoing Novartis investigation, a move seen as an effort to influence the direction of the probe.

Polakis, the then alternate health minister, may be called to testify because he once said that SYRIZA would win the general elections if state embezzlers who have not yet been convicted go to jail, a comment which opposition parties viewed as an intention to persecute political opponents.

SYRIZA has yet to respond to the removal. Some argue Tzanakopoulos and Polakis may chose to defy the ejection and reappear at the committee's next meeting on Thursday, or that the party will accept the decision and select their replacements who will decry the procedure.

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