Ex-minister’s comments fuel row over Novartis affair

Ex-minister’s comments fuel row over Novartis affair

Political tensions over the alleged scandal involving Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis peaked on Thursday when ruling SYRIZA accused opposition New Democracy and the centrist Movement for Change (KINAL) of seeking to cover up ostensible offenses by politicians aligned with them. 

The upheaval followed comments by former PASOK minister Evangelos Venizelos, one of 10 politicians originally implicated in a probe into Novartis in Greece.

The case against Venizelos has since been shelved, along with most of those named, with former health minister Andreas Loverdos the only one currently implicated. (Parliament is to vote next Friday on whether to lift his immunity.)

On Skai TV on Wednesday night, Venizelos suggested that the Novartis affair showed how SYRIZA ministers abuse their power.

He said the next Parliament after this year’s elections would not support the leftists’ proposals for constitutional review, apparently referring to suggested changes to Article 86 concerning the prosecution of ministers.

SYRIZA said Venizelos revealed “a plot by ND and KINAL to cover up the Novartis scandal.” “He admitted that their aim is to cooperate… to ensure that criminal responsibilities of implicated politicians in the Novartis scandal are written off,” SYRIZA said.

Venizelos hit back, saying the leftists’ “great sorrow for the collapse of the Novartis frame-up” had confused them. “The frame-up will not be written off… There is plenty of time for it to be investigated.”

Meanwhile former premier Panagiotis Pikrammenos, another of the 10 politicians originally implicated in the probe and since cleared, said the affair as a “farce.” The former judge told Skai he was certain that the probe was set up by politicians aiming to undermine their rivals and lacked evidence.

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