Thursday Jul 31, 2014 Search
Weather | Athens
32o C
25o C
News
Business
Comment
Life
Sports
Community
Survival Guide
Greek Edition
Top PM aide forced out after talks with GD revealed

A file photo of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras looking at Panayiotis Baltakos, seen in the foreground.

One of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s closest aides, Panayiotis Baltakos, was forced to resign on Wednesday after a video posted on the Internet showed him apparently accusing the premier of trying to influence a prosecutors' investigation into neofascist Golden Dawn, triggering a political storm.

Baltakos, the cabinet secretary, announced his resignation just a few hours after the release of the video, which was secretly filmed by Golden Dawn spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris and shows Baltakos speaking critically of Samaras’s role in the GD crackdown and suggesting the premier had tried to influence the probe to secure votes for New Democracy.

Questioned by reporters, Samaras said he knew nothing about the affair, adding however that, “if what’s being said is true, then Baltakos has no position in the government.” Shortly afterward, Baltakos issued a letter of resignation, apologizing for the upheaval caused by his comments, which he said he had made to “relieve pressure” being exerted on him by Golden Dawn. He claimed to have had a second meeting with Kasidiaris during which he told the latter there was no evidence that the investigation against GD had been influenced.

In the video, Baltakos can be heard telling Kasidiaris that he and two other GD MPs were released pending trial last fall because there was no evidence against them and suggesting that the detention of another three MPs had followed phone calls made by Justice Minister Haralambos Athanasiou and Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias to judicial officials. Baltakos also can be heard saying that Samaras was worried about losing votes to Golden Dawn. “Because you are stopping him from having a lead over SYRIZA,” he said, referring to the main leftist opposition.

The release of the video also triggered a brawl outside Baltakos’s office in the Parliament building when the policeman guarding the office allegedly kicked GD MP Artemis Matthaiopoulos, prompting GD lawmakers to respond in kind and Baltakos’s son, Dimitris, to assault three of them, including Matthaiopoulos.

PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos was quick to distance his party from Baltakos, who he referred to as an “old problem” as he suggested that the Socialists had to make some unpleasant compromises to stay in a coalition with New Democracy. “This government is one of cooperation and it has the aim of confronting a national emergency,” said Venizelos on the sidelines of a European Union meeting he was attending in his capacity as foreign minister.

Former coalition partner Democratic Left (DIMAR) suggested that questions also had to be asked about Samaras for trusting Baltakos, who clashed frequently with the leftists when they were in government. “This is a major political issue,” said DIMAR. “The prime minister kept in his position for a long time a political figure that had provoked public opinion through his actions.”

SYRIZA also accused Samaras of being “personally responsible” for Baltakos. The leftists also called on the government to clarify whether it had attempted to influence the judicial process.

The whole affair started earlier on Wednesday when Kasidiaris referred to the existence of the video during a debate on lifting the immunity of five Golden Dawn MPs. Eventually the vote was held and a majority of lawmakers voted in favor of lifting the immunity of four GD MPs – Michail Arvanitis-Avramis, Eleni Zaroulia, Nikolaos Kouzilos and Dimitris Koukoutsis – on charges of setting up a criminal organization. Lawmakers also voted in favor of lifting the immunity of party spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris, who has already been charged with setting up a criminal organization and faces additional charges of illegal weapons possession. Wednesday's votes brought the total number of GD MPs facing prosecution on charges of setting up a criminal investigation to 13. Six of the 13 are in jail, including party leader Nikos Michaloliakos.

ekathimerini.com , Wednesday April 2, 2014 (21:21)  
Opposition´s bid to remove articles from forestry bill fails
Man dies after being shot outside his house near Thessaloniki
Fake psychic caught in Thessaloniki after gaining 35,000 from victim
Motorists refusing to pay tolls on Corinth-Kalamata highway to be monitored
Russia may restrict Greek fruit imports
Russia may impose new food import restrictions next week, reports said on Thursday, in what could be responses to new Western sanctions over Moscow's support of rebels in Ukraine. The countr...
Greek retail sales drop 3.8 pct y/y in May
Greek retail sales by volume fell 3.8 percent in May compared to the same month last year, after a downwardly revised 7.1 percent rise in April, statistics service ELSTAT said on Thursday. A...
Inside Business
SOCCER
Goalless draw at Liege puts Greens in driving seat
Panathinaikos got the upper hand in the battle for entry to the Champions League playoffs after snatching a goalless draw at Standard Liege on Wednesday. If anything, the Greek cup holders m...
SOCCER
Greek league recruits former referee Dallas
Former referee Hugh Dallas has been appointed as the head referee of the Greek Super League, the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) said in a statement on Wednesday. The 56-year-old Scot ear...
Inside Sports
COMMENTARY
Summer turbulence
High summer temperatures appear to have messed with the reflexes of officials at the top echelons of Greece’s power-sharing administration. A sense of anxiety has gripped the political syste...
EDITORIAL
Capital upgrade
After years of financial troubles, the city of Athens is finally buzzing with tourists. Despite some encouraging figures however, the Greek capital has not quite managed to become a destinat...
Inside Comment
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
 RECENT NEWS
1. Russia may restrict Greek fruit imports
2. Greek retail sales drop 3.8 pct y/y in May
3. Opposition´s bid to remove articles from forestry bill fails
4. Euro bonds in seven-month surge as ECB boosts Italy to Germany
5. Man dies after being shot outside his house near Thessaloniki
6. Greece may ignore EU and lower energy costs for business, says minister
more news
Today
This Week
1. Motorists refusing to pay tolls on Corinth-Kalamata highway to be monitored
2. Euro flows reveal shift in sentiment as losses mount
3. EU puzzles over emergency funds for euro area bank crisis agency
4. Only 5 percent of stores see brisker business during this year's summer sales
5. Fake psychic caught in Thessaloniki after gaining 35,000 from victim
6. Greece may ignore EU and lower energy costs for business, says minister
Today
This Week
1. Quadriplegic woman on life support 'dies due to unpaid power bills'
2. Hedge fund Dromeus turns Greek tragedy to triumph with 160 pct gain
3. Defense Minister Avramopoulos to represent Greece at European Commission
4. Wine cup used by Pericles found in grave north of Athens
5. Front-line threats
6. Greece names fifth privatization agency chief in four years
   Find us ...
  ... on
Twitter
     ... on Facebook   
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright © 2014, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.