Minister under fire over leaked call with convict


Greece’s left-led government has come under fire from the opposition in the wake of reports and leaked audio of an alleged telephone conversation between Defense Minister Panos Kammenos and Makis Yiannousakis, a former shipowner who is currently serving life in prison in connection with the Noor 1 heroin smuggling case.

In the conversation, Kammenos, who is also leader of right-wing coalition partner Independent Greeks, allegedly asked Yiannousakis to testify against a particular businessman in exchange for support from the government so that he would receive preferential treatment.

Kammenos reacted to the reports saying that Yiannousakis had – through the mediation of journalist Makis Triantafyllopoulos – asked for judicial protection in order to give evidence in connection with the case.

“As it was my duty to do, I immediately informed the prosecutor and the responsible minister,” Kammenos said.

Conservative New Democracy submitted a question in Parliament asking Justice Minister Stavros Kontonis whether he was aware of Kammenos’s “unacceptable intervention” in the work of justice. PASOK socialists submitted a similar question, also asking whether the conversation between the minister and the inmate took place with the knowledge of the Prison Council.

Responding in Parliament on Monday, Kontonis vowed that authorities will check for any violations of standard procedure. “Interventions of this sort will neither obstruct justice nor stop the government from seeing the issue to the end,” he said.

Yiannousakis was found guilty of participating in the smuggling of more than 2 tons of heroin into Greece aboard the Noor 1 cargo ship in 2014.