NEWS

Supreme Court to probe prosecutors’ interference claims

Supreme Court prosecutor Yiannis Tentes has ordered an investigation into claims by two financial prosecutors who resigned on Wednesday that various interests were attempting to derail their probes into a range of offenses, including tax evasion.

Tentes assigned the investigation to deputy prosecutor Fotis Makris, who is set to ask next week for clarification from the two prosecutors, Grigoris Peponis and Spyros Mouzakitis.

Peponis and Mouzakitis claimed ?politicoeconomic intervention? in their work, a lack of technical support and that their positions were being undermined by an imminent change to the law that would have passed their duties to a deputy prosecutor at the Supreme Court.

?We have never pursued lofty positions so we do not accept being prosecutors who are manipulated and take orders,? the two men said in their letter.

Peponis and Mouzakitis had recently launched investigations into a number of high-profile cases, including major tax evasion, the resignation of Finance Ministry official Diomidis Spinellis, banks? funding of Alter TV, allegations of benefits cheating and claims of fiddled statistics at the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT).

Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Justice Minister Miltiadis Papaioannou responded with a joint statement asking the prosecutors to come forward with any information that they have about interference in their work.

They also expressed their puzzlement at why the two appeals court prosecutors objected to a draft law that would pass their duties to superior judicial officials. ?Do Supreme Court deputy prosecutors possess less zeal or is their independence so compromised that they are susceptible to covering up financial crimes?? wondered the ministers

Opposition parties have pushed for Venizelos and Papaioannou to explain what led to the prosecutors feeling they had to resign. ?Why did Mr Venizelos disrupt a system that had started to work properly?? asked New Democracy MP Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

?For the first time, society felt that guilty people were being punished, no matter how important they were,? he told Skai TV.

The head of Greece?s prosecutors? union, Panayiotis Brakoumatsos, told Skai radio that the Supreme Court would get to the bottom of the matter.