A political maelstrom was triggered on Friday after the Judicial Council of the Supreme Court ruled that former prosecutor Eleni Touloupaki must be tried by a special tribunal for abuse of power, along with former deputy justice minister Dimitris Papangelopoulos, over the latter’s handling of the Novartis case that erupted in 2016 and involved unsubstantiated claims that former prime ministers and ministers allegedly received bribes from the Swiss pharmaceutical giant.
The accusations against Papangelopoulos, which include abuse of power (felony) and breach of duty (misdemeanor), do not concern the incrimination of the 10 prominent politicians in the Novartis case.
Touloupaki was the prosecutor who compiled the case file on the 10 politicians, who were accused by protected witnesses.
Contrary to the prosecutor’s proposal, the council dismissed the case against two assistant former corruption prosecutors Christos Ntzouras and Stelios Manolis.
The journalists who were also implicated in the case were acquitted of all charges brought against them.
The ruling triggered a war of words between the government and opposition SYRIZA, under which Papangelopoulos served as minister when the leftist party was in government.
“Mr Dimitris Papangelopoulos, the closest associate of [SYRIZA leader Alexis] Tsipras, the man who was entrusted with the portfolio of the deputy minister of justice, transparency and human rights, with responsibility for corruption issues, was referred by a unanimous decision of the Judicial Council to the special court for abuse of power to the degree of a felony and breach of duty to the degree of a misdemeanor for his handling of the 10 political figures who were unjustly targeted through the Novartis case,” said government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou.
His comments drew a scathing response from SYRIZA spokesman Nassos Iliopoulos, who stressed that “the decision of the Judicial Council is a mockery of the efforts of the Mitsotakis government to instrumentalize justice and turn the Novartis scandal into an alleged frame-up.”
Iliopoulos claimed “no one is being indicted for their handling of the Novartis case, not even the journalists are being indicted, whose guilt for their alleged participation in a conspiracy was announced by [Prime Minister Kyriakos] Mitsotakis himself from the floor of the Parliament.”