Children’s hospital chief to respond to bribery charges next week

An Athens magistrate on Wednesday gave the president of the Aglaia Kyriakou Children’s Hospital of Athens until next week to prepare his response to criminal charges in connection with allegations that he demanded a bribe from a supplier.

Haris Tombouloglou, a New Democracy member, was arrested on Tuesday after police found 25,000 euros in marked banknotes in his possession.

According to authorities, Tombouloglou had demanded the money from a private firm that had won at the beginning of 2013 a tender for a 200,000-euro program to combat obesity among children.

The contract, however, was never fulfilled. A few days ago, a person claiming to represent the hospital allegedly contacted the firm and demanded an under-the-table payment so the program could proceed.

The company’s representatives contacted the police and a sting operation was set up. The money was paid to a middleman but most of it was later found in the hospital president’s possession. The alleged intermediary, aged 40, has also been arrested and faces further charges of drug possession after police found an unspecified amount of cannabis in his home.

Coming out of the Athens court complex on Evelpidon Street on Wednesday, Tombouloglou denied the charges and is said to have told the magistrate that he took the money with the intention of later making a charitable donation.

Tombouloglou had been a member of New Democracy for a number of years and had stood as a party candidate in elections. After his arrest, he was expelled from the conservative party.

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