Tensions peak over Novartis affair

Tensions peak over Novartis affair

Following a new turn in the investigation into an alleged bribery scandal involving Swiss drugmaker Novartis, which has fuelled debate about the procedures being followed by the Greek judiciary, police on Thursday raided the home of a former protected witness in the probe. 

A raid on the home of the academic and former Health Ministry advisor Nikos Maniadakis yielded little as he had packed up his belongings in preparation to move to Spain where he works.

The planned move was obstructed when Maniadakis and his family were stopped at Athens International Airport on Monday. Later that day airport police were informed that he had been charged with accepting bribes in connection with the Novartis affair.

Police searching Maniadakis’s home on Thursday confiscated his British passport, a computer and documents, Kathimerini understands. 

There was speculation that instead of summoning him to appear before a prosecutor, authorities might issue a warrant for his arrest. 

Maniadakis insisted, during an interview with Skai television on Wednesday, that he did not accept bribes from the Swiss company, adding that he was persistently questioned by prosecutors about the alleged involvement of prominent Greek government officials in the alleged scandal. 

The Novartis bribery claims have been built on the testimonies of three protected witnesses including Maniadakis. The other two are said to have claimed that Maniadakis accepted 120,000 euros from the Swiss pharma giant. However, one of the two appears to have amended her original testimony, raising further questions. 

Judicial sources insisted on Thursday that Maniadakis’s claim that he was pressurized to incriminate politicians was not true, though there were no official statements. 

The Union of Judges and Prosecutors did issue a statement however, calling on Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to condemn Alternate Health Minister Pavlos Polakis for accusing five judicial officials of deliberately delaying investigations into the Novartis affair and the alleged mismanagement of funds by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis referred to an “unprecedented undermining of our democratic institutions.”

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