Second arms firm mediator to testify in kickbacks probe

Arms dealer Dimitris Papachristos, 78, was on Friday to face an investigating magistrate probing a broadening defense kickbacks scandal in which several politicians and armed forces officials are said to have been named.

Papachristos, who formerly represented the German firm, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, is one of several suspects named by Antonis Kantas, a former procurements manager at the Defense Ministry. The latter has admitted to pocketing 16 million dollars in kickbacks for state defense deals. In his testimony to magistrates last week, Kantas claimed to have been given 750,000 euros by Papachristos to secure the sale of 24 self-propelled howitzers.

Lawyers representing Papachristos, 78, have said their client was willing to cooperate with judicial authorities but that he suffers from amnesia.

A judicial council was on Friday expected to decide whether another suspect in the probe, 83-year-old Panayiotis Efstathiou, who used to represent the German firm Atlas Elektronik, should be remanded in custody. The suspect’s lawyers clashed with investigating magistrate Gavriil Mallis after the latter decided that Efstathiou should be remanded, despite a prosecutor’s suggestion that the 83-year-old be released. The lawyers said that Efstathiou is in ill health, suffering from cancer, and insisted that he was not a flight risk. The 83-year-old was transferred to the hospital late on Thursday after claiming to feel faint following 12 hours of testimony. He is said to have implicated at least 10 members of the armed forces in connection with state kickbacks but no politicians, despite insistent questioning by Mallis.

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