Detained ex-minister requests release

Former Defense Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos, who has been in custody for a week in connection with extensive charges of money laundering, on Monday lodged an appeal for his release.

The team of lawyers representing the socialist veteran requested his release, claiming that there were no justifiable legal reasons for his being remanded in custody.

The 73-year-old cannot be regarded as a flight risk as his passport is in the hands of the authorities and he has presented himself to police regularly as requested prior to his detention, the lawyers said. In addition, the former minister is a highly recognizable public figure, a fact that would complicate any efforts to leave the country, they said.

Further, Tsochatzopoulos maintains via his lawyers that he is no longer a minister and therefore cannot carry out offenses of the type that he has been charged with. As for the charges of money laundering that have been brought against him, his position is that these have expired under the statute of limitations.

Meanwhile, Tsochatzopoulos is said to have appealed to authorities in Korydallos Prison where he is being detained to allow him visits from another four people, in addition to his team of lawyers and relatives. These four people, according to sources, are two aides from his political office, a close friend and a cousin.

As of Wednesday, 10 people who have been implicated in the money-laundering network that prosecutors believe was used by Tsochatzopoulos to conceal millions of euros in under-the-table payments from defense procurement deals are to face an investigating magistrate. They include associates and relatives. The ex-minister?s daughter Areti and his wife Viki Stamati are due to testify on Friday.