Lawyer of ex-minister’s cousin asks court to show leniency

The lawyer of Nikos Zigras, the cousin of former defense minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos and the only one of 19 defendants in the latter’s trial for money laundering that has admitted to any of the charges, on Thursday asked an Athens court to show leniency toward his client, who has health problems.

Summing up before the Athens Appeals Court, Stelios Garipis said Zigras had conceded his guilt from the outset even though the investigating magistrate handling the case, Gavriil Mallis, had told him that he would not be released from pretrial custody whatever he claimed or revealed. Garipis added that Zigras had shown courage, unlike the ex-minister who refused to admit to any of the charges brought against him. “My client did not honor the code of silence,” he said, adding that Zigras told Tsochatzopoulos to “behave like a man and a Greek.”

Zigras, who has admitted to managing millions of euros in kickbacks for Tsochatzopoulos and to helping cover the money trail, cooperated fully with the authorities, Garipis said. He said the court should show leniency “as an example for the future.”

In a related development, former Cypriot Interior Minister Dinos Michailides, who was extradited to Greece to be tried in connection with the money-laundering racket centered around Tsochatzopoulos, was remanded in custody on Wednesday after defending himself before an investigating magistrate.

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