NEWS

PASOK chief slams rivals during tense list hearing

During a heated session of the parliamentary committee probing the political handling of the so-called Lagarde list of wealthy depositors on Thursday, PASOK leader and former Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos lashed out at his predecessor Giorgos Papaconstantinou and other senior government officials, who he accused of going behind his back.

Referring to the e-mails submitted to the committee last week by the former head of the Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE) Yiannis Diotis, Venizelos claimed their content proved that Diotis, Papaconstantinou and Constantinos Bikas, the former head of the National Intelligence Service (EYP), had all “acted secretly behind my back, had ignored me.”

Venizelos insisted that he received the memory stick containing the Lagarde list in August 2011, rebuffing Diotis’s claims that he gave Venizelos the list on July 8 of that year. The PASOK chief claimed that Diotis had not told him there was no other copy of the memory stick. He repeated his conviction that the list was not legally usable but said it could have been the starting point of an investigation.

Venizelos clashed during the session with leftist SYRIZA deputy Zoe Constantopoulou, whom he accused of employing methods of questioning akin to torture. The biggest dispute, however, was Venizelos’s exchange of barbs with Golden Dawn spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris, which led to the session being interrupted briefly.

The trouble started when Kasidiaris, in questions directed at Venizelos, referred to the involvement of secret service agents in the delivery of the Lagarde list to Greece, prompting the angry reaction of conservative New Democracy MP Adonis Georgiadis and a subsequent dispute between the ND deputy and Kasidiaris.

During a break from testimony, Venizelos jokingly attributed the outburst to “high testosterone levels” in comments to reporters. On hearing about the PASOK leader’s comments, Kasidiaris accused Venizelos of speaking disparagingly of members of the committee and asked the panel’s president, Christos Markoyiannakis, to intervene. When Venizelos called Kasidiaris a fascist, the latter snapped, calling the PASOK leader “ridiculous and fat” and storming out of the session, smashing a glass on his way out. Kasidiaris did not let the matter lie there, submitting a censure motion against Markoyiannakis for allegedly preventing him for from examining a witness.