Ex-minister under fire

Politicians from across the spectrum called over the weekend for a law protecting ministers from prosecution not to apply in the case of former Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou, who was implicated on Friday in doctoring the so-called Lagarde list of Greek depositors with Swiss bank accounts.

The development came after all three parties in the coalition called for a parliamentary investigation into the affair.

According to the law, drafted by former Justice Minister Haris Kastanidis in June 2011, ministers can be indicted to trial for crimes committed when they were not in power but they are immune from prosecution for the time that they were in office. A provision of the bill states that the statute of limitations for any crimes allegedly committed by ministers expires after two governments have served.

Legal experts speculated over the weekend whether Papaconstantinou, who has been implicated in the removal of the names of three of his relatives from the list, can be prosecuted. Some argued that the statute of limitations on his alleged crime – of not handing over the intact list to authorities probing tax evasion – has not expired as he continued to be in breach of the law after leaving the ministry in June 2011.

Kastanidis on Saturday said that Papaconstantinou should face prosecution under common criminal law and not enjoy special treatment for having been a minister.

Communist Party leader Aleka Papariga called for the immediate change of the law granting ministers immunity from prosecution, noting that the affair of the list had “once more brought the rot in the political system to the surface.”

The main leftwing opposition SYRIZA – leading in opinion polls – said that a probe into Papaconstantinou was “the least” that could be done by the government, which it accused of trying to blame the ex-minister for a broader scandal of “corruption, unchecked lawlessness and widespread tax evasion.”

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