Super-snoops to target graft

Having achieved considerable success in its original mission to fight corruption in the force, the police internal affairs bureau is now to take on a vastly larger opponent. Under legislation passed late last year, the three-and-a-half-year-old squad will also handle complaints regarding public sector graft. Yesterday, Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis promised that results would be forthcoming. «Everyone must realize that things are to change in so far as the means of supervising the functioning of the public sector are concerned,» he said, during a presentation of the 260-strong bureau’s new duties. «This is not a threat to civil servants. On the contrary, they must be protected from the existence of a treacherous minority that blackens the overall image of the public sector.» The bureau – which enjoys unrivaled investigative powers – will investigate all manner of complaint ranging from bribe-seeking state hospital doctors to avaricious town-planning department or tax office employees. «The police internal affairs bureau is the best proof that corruption is not an invincible opponent,» Chrysochoidis said. The department was founded in October 1999 in Athens, and a Thessaloniki branch opened six months later. During investigations, officers may engage in illegal activities, have legal access to confidential information on suspects’ bank accounts and tax affairs, are allowed to open private letters, tap phone calls and may use audiovisual records in court as evidence – which is not accepted in other cases. Complaints can be made over the phone (210.928.5100 in Athens and 2310.531.704 or 2310.532.186 in Thessaloniki) or by e-mail ([email protected] or [email protected]).

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