Claims that ex-minister was attacked in prison probed

Claims that ex-minister was attacked in prison probed

The Justice Ministry on Wednesday ordered an investigation into claims that former defense minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos, 77, was attacked last Thursday by fellow inmates at the capital’s maximum-security prison in Korydallos, where he is serving a 20-year sentence for laundering millions of euros in kickbacks from state defense deals.

Initial reports suggested that long-term convict and crime boss Vassilis Stefanakos was among those who attacked the former minister. Later, however, Tsochatzopoulos’s lawyer Leonidas Kotsalis said that the attack was verbal and involved a series of threats against the former minister by other inmates. Kotsalis did not specify who was allegedly involved in the attack. He said the dispute was sparked by a disagreement over the level of lighting in the prison.

Commenting on Wednesday Vassilis Kapernaros, Stefanakos’s lawyer, denied that his client had any involvement in the incident, dismissing reports according to which Stefanakos beat the former minister as “fabricated and false.” Stefanakos is serving time at Korydallos in connection with a huge extortion racket he is alleged to have run from the high-security prison along with fellow inmates.

According to unconfirmed reports, the jailed anarchist and bank robber Nikos Romanos was also present during the altercation.

In parallel to the Justice Ministry’s investigation into whether any prison guards should be held responsible for failing to intervene in the alleged attack, the prison’s management is to conduct a probe to determine whether any inmates should be disciplined over the incident.

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