Greek pensioner, widow sue state over bond losses

Two Greeks, a wealthy widow and a male pensioner, are suing the state for the money they have lost because of the country?s multi-billion euro debt restructuring, a court official said on Friday.

The 76-year-old widow says she has lost about 200,000 euros – roughly half her investment in Greek bonds, considered by many a safe asset before the debt crisis exploded, while the man has lost some 4,000 euros, the official said.

?It?s the first time Greek bondholders have filed a lawsuit against the state demanding that the court rule the cabinet?s decree implementing the PSI (debt swap) unconstitutional and illegal,? said the court official, who declined to be named.

Pensioners have been hard hit by Greece?s worst economic crisis since World War Two, suffering cuts of about 25 percent on average in their old-age benefits over the past two years.

A 77-year-old retired pharmacist, Dimitris Christoulas, shot himself in the head in central Athens on Wednesday after saying that financial troubles had pushed him over the edge. A suicide note said he preferred to die rather than scavenge for food.

His suicide outside parliament became a symbol of the hardships ordinary Greeks are suffering because of a series of wage and pension cuts and tax rises imposed to keep the country afloat and meet conditions to get aid from the EU and the IMF.

Greece swapped 177 billion euros worth of bonds for new ones last month, inflicting losses on bondholders averaging three quarters of their investment, as part of a plan to slash its gargantuan debt and stay in the euro zone.

The lawsuit filed by the two Greeks on Friday follows a case involving more than 100 holders of Greek bonds in Germany. [Reuters]