NEWS

Call for Siemens probe challenged by ND

Four former ministers should be investigated further over possible wrongdoing in connection to state contracts awarded to Siemens Hellas, PASOK MPs recommended on Friday.

Conscious of the growing demand from voters for politicians who have been involved in corrupt practices to face prosecution, MPs have shown over the last few weeks an urgency that was previously lacking in their efforts to resolve a number of outstanding graft probes.

Last month, deputies overwhelmingly voted in favor of indicting former Defense Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos in connection to the purchase of four submarines by the Greek Navy.

Tsochatzopoulos is one of the four ministers that the Socialist MPs suggested should be probed in connection to the Siemens contracts as well. Former Transport Minister Tasos Mantelis, who also served in a PASOK government, was also identified as a suspect by his former colleagues. The PASOK MPs also suggested that ex-Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis and Public Order Minister Christos Markoyiannakis, from the previous New Democracy government, should be scrutinized.

Significantly, the Socialist lawmakers invoked a recent law change on ministers? responsibilities to suggest that Tsochatzopoulos and Mantelis should face a three-member court, unlike Alogoskoufis and Markoyiannakis, who are slated to appear before a parliamentary committee. The 108 PASOK MPs who signed the proposal argued that charges of accepting bribes against Tsochatzopoulos and Mantelis have expired under the statute of limitations and that they can only be probed for money laundering.

In contrast, the PASOK MPs argued that a breach of faith by Alogoskoufis had led to Greece missing out on the opportunity to claim back 286 million euros from Siemens Hellas over a suspect contract with OTE telecoms. In Markoyiannakis?s case, the lawmakers said, the minister had accepted delivery of a faulty surveillance system, known as C4I from a US-based consortium, that led to the state suffering 255 million euros in damages.

The possibility that just ND politicians could be indicted in connection to the Siemens cash-for-contracts scandal, which has been traced back to 1997, led to the conservative spokesman Yiannis Michelakis accusing PASOK of trying to pass responsibility for the scandal from itself to the center-right party.