Ex-minister says trial part of parties’ ‘plot’

Akis Tsochatzopoulos, a former defense minister being tried for allegedly laundering money from kickbacks, on Friday rebuffed the “fabricated” allegations against him as a plot by Greece’s mainstream parties to disguise their own crimes.

“[This is] a plot orchestrated by the two main parties, PASOK and New Democracy, to blanket the truth,” Tsochatzopoulos said, describing himself as the political victim of PASOK infighting.

The 73-year-old onetime socialist heavyweight walked out of proceedings at the Athens Appeals Court after judges rejected a request for the former members of the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defense (KYSEA), including ex-Prime Minister Costas Simitis, to appear as witnesses.

“We cannot proceed unless we talk with the people who made the decisions [on arms procurements] – politicians as well as military men,” Tsochatzopoulos said.

The court said Simitis, who co-signed the arms deals made by his minister, did not have to testify at this stage, although it did not rule out summoning the ex-premier in the future.

“My presence is not necessary here if I only have the role of spectator,” Tsochatzopoulos told the presiding judge. “I’ll be back when we start tackling issues of substance.”

Tsochatzopoulos and 18 others, including his wife, ex-wife and daughter, face charges of laundering money he allegedly took in bribes while at the Defense Ministry.