Speaker qualifies immunity

Hoping to shame MPs into a tougher stance when it comes to granting their colleagues immunity from prosecution, the speaker of Parliament yesterday called for an open vote on such matters. Apostolos Kaklamanis told a meeting of the presidents of all parliamentary committees that his proposal would be officially tabled in a few days’ time. It will then be processed by a committee before being debated by the 300-member house. Kaklamanis wants a five-member committee to examine each prosecution bid, to decide whether the charges are political – therefore meriting immunity – or not. The House’s plenary session will then vote on whether to allow the MP’s prosecution. His call follows a series of (secret) votes in which MPs refused to allow the prosecution of their colleagues on potential charges ranging from murder with possible intent – in the case of New Democracy MP Athanassios Katsiyiannis, who was supervising engineer on a building that collapsed in the 1999 Athens quake, killing a boy – through hit-and-run traffic accidents to speeding.