Novartis probes, justice appointments tax government

Novartis probes, justice appointments tax government

As investigations get under way into claims by a top prosecutor that a government official sought to influence a probe into an alleged bribery scandal involving the Swiss drugs firm Novartis, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras faces another headache over reports that President Prokopis Pavlopoulos plans not to approve his cabinet’s nomination of a new Supreme Court leadership.

According to sources, Pavlopoulos made it clear to Tsipras, when the latter visited him last Monday to request the dissolution of Parliament to make way for a snap election, that he cannot sign a decree approving the Supreme Court appointments before the end of the month as the terms of the court’s president and main prosecutor will not have expired by then; nor can he sign the decree in the first week of July, Pavlopoulos reportedly said, as snap polls will be imminent, on July 7.

As a result, Pavlopoulos is expected to return the decree without his signature.

The premier is said to be mulling his response, with some aides advising a conciliatory stance and others suggesting a clash with the president as a way of defending the cabinet’s decision on the court changes.

Meanwhile the government is bracing for the outcome of two probes over the Novartis affair. Supreme Court deputy prosecutor Ioannis Angelis, who has accused his judicial colleagues of mismanaging the Novartis probe and an unnamed politician of influencing the investigation, is to be summoned to testify next week.

Angelis, who has referred to the government official as “Rasputin,” is to give his testimony on Friday to another Supreme Court deputy prosecutor, Dimitris Dasoulas, who has been appointed by the court’s main prosecutor Xeni Dimitriou to probe his claims.

Dasoulas will also summon corruption prosecutor Eleni Touloupaki, who has accused Angelis of several alleged offenses, including taking one of her memory sticks.

Separately, Touloupaki on Friday brought charges of money laundering and bribing a politician against four suspects in the Novartis probe.

Justice Minister Michalis Kalogirou has also called for a disciplinary investigation, by the Council of State, into Angelis’ claims.

Conservative New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said it was “clear” the government influenced the course of the Novartis probe and that Angelis’ accusations should be probed by the next government.

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