Prosecutors fight back at bias claims

Stung by repeated government allegations that members of the judiciary are discharging their duties under orders from the main opposition party, Greece’s Supreme Court prosecutors have denounced the unsubstantiated, unacceptable attacks on their colleagues. In a statement made public yesterday, the plenary session of Supreme Court prosecutors said such allegations could possibly be received as an intervention in the work of the judiciary, and could shake citizens’ faith in the impartial behavior of prosecutors. This followed virulent attacks by Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis on prosecutor Giorgos Gerakis, who has filed corruption and fraud charges against officials involved in listing millions of often disputed properties in a national land register. Laliotis, with the full support of his Cabinet colleagues, has accused Gerakis of acting under instructions from opposition New Democracy to undermine the project. He also claimed the conservatives are in the pocket of a foreign firm that supposedly wants to take over the multi-billion drachma projectfrom his ministry. The project has already far overshot its initial budget, with only a fraction of the work completed. This drove officials in Brussels, which is covering 75 percent of the cost, to call for a return of a substantial portion of European Union contributions while demanding draconian supervision of future work. The Supreme Court prosecutors rejected as unacceptable what they described as the unsubstantiated attribution of selfish motives to prosecutors’ investigations, particularly when this… takes the form of statements to the media. Yesterday, Justice Minister Michalis Stathopoulos said Laliotis was fully entitled to criticize Gerakis. Government officials also have the right to answer back, he said. Similar attacks on other prosecutors have already been denounced by the Supreme Court and the prosecutors’ union.

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