Former justice minister Stavros Kontonis launched a fierce attack on Wednesday against the main opposition SYRIZA party shortly before submitting his testimony to judicial authorities investigating his allegations regarding the amendment of bribery from a felony to a misdemeanor in the new penal code passed by the leftist government on the eve of the 2019 national elections.
Before entering the courthouse on Wednesday, Kontonis, who served in the SYRIZA-led government from 2016 to 2018, referred to “stigma and shame” regarding the voting of the provisions of the new penal code on the eve of the 2019 elections. He resigned from SYRIZA, citing concerns about divisions in the main opposition party, but also about the criminal code which essentially made the sentences for a number of crimes more lenient.
The passing of the new code had sparked a fierce political controversy at the time, which also saw New Democracy refusing to participate in the vote in Parliament, resulting in an ongoing judicial investigation.
Kontonis said the changes to certain provisions of the penal code were made with the purpose of “serving interests.”
SYRIZA, he said in a statement, promised a purge but instead introduced statutes of limitations for very serious crimes.
He added that the voting process for the new criminal code was rushed through so that “more than a thousand articles were voted in a meeting without substantial consultation with the law schools and the associations of criminologists.”
Kontonis’ testimony on Wednesday was part of a judicial investigation following his public statements.
He also said the the provisions regarding child rape and sexual abuse in relation to ancillary penalties were highly problematic.
For its part, SYRIZA issued a statement on Wednesday describing Kontonis’ assertions as “nonsense.”
“We wish him good luck in his new duties as a porter of political and business interests,” the statement read.