ND seeks probe into minister’s alleged link to drug convict

ND seeks probe into minister’s alleged link to drug convict

The government remained in defensive mode Thursday as the main opposition New Democracy submitted a request for a special parliamentary committee to investigate allegations by a convicted drug smuggler that Defense Minister Panos Kammenos tried to pressure him into testifying against a prominent businessman.

The petition, signed by the conservative opposition party’s entire parliamentary group, also called for the probe to investigate claims by Makis Yiannousakis – who is serving a life sentence in connection to a huge shipment of heroin made by the Noor 1 cargo ship in 2014 – implicating a coast guard investigator and other state officials in efforts to link shipowner Vangelis Marinakis to the case.

The petition called for the investigative committee to examine the allegations against Kammenos and the possible involvement of other government officials, as well as whether there is a case for obstruction of justice, trying to influence the course of justice and abuse of power.

Shortly before the submission of the petition, ND’s parliamentary spokesman Vassilis Kikilias spoke of “a scandalous affair” that the government allegedly tried to cover up. He noted that neither Shipping Minister Panayiotis Kouroublis nor Hellenic Coast Guard Chief Vice Admiral Stamatios Raptis have ordered an investigation into the alleged involvement of coast guard official Panayiotis Christoforidis in the affair. ND appeared confident that its proposal would enjoy the backing of other parties.

However, the government’s opposition to the initiative was clear Thursday when the head of Parliament’s transparency and ethics committee, Tasia Christodoulopoulou, rejected a call by centrist Potami MP Spyros Lykoudis for Kammenos to explain himself before the panel. Christodoulopoulou said the request was “abstract and inadequate.”

In a related development, ND repeated its call for a parliamentary investigation into the government’s activities in the first half of 2015 that led to the imposition of capital controls in Greece following a report in Kathimerini with additional details about former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis’s plans for a parallel currency as elucidated by Varoufakis’s ex-adviser Glenn Kim.

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