It remained unclear on Thursday whether the special Parliament committee which will be set up in early October to probe the possible mishandling of the alleged Novartis bribery case by the previous government will deem then that it is indeed the appropriate body to examine the case or if it will proceed to examine the testimonies of key figures and issue a finding.
According to the case file, former alternate justice minister Dimitris Papangelopoulos intervened in the inquiry of the Novartis case in order to incriminate the government’s political rivals, as was claimed in the depositions of former prime minister Antonis Samaras, former PASOK minister Evangelos Venizelos and Supreme Court deputy prosecutor Ioannis Angelis.
The special committee will be called upon to decide if Papangelopoulos’ alleged interventions were part of his ministerial duties or not.
The case file also included the assertion that then prime minister Alexis Tsipras was aware of the intervention by Papangelopoulos. However, a parliamentary majority decided on Wednesday not to investigate his role after Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis stated that he does not want to put his political rivals on trial.
Minister of State George Gerapetritis reiterated that sentiment yesterday. Speaking to Parapolitika radio, he said that this could only occur if there is “irrefutable proof.”
For its part, SYRIZA affirmed its full support for Papangelopoulos yesterday, with Tsipras telling a meeting of the party’s political secretariat that the case against the former minister is an attempt by ruling New Democracy to divert attention away from the alleged Novartis scandal.
Papangelopoulos himself hit back yesterday over the allegations, insisting there is no evidence to prosecute him.
“This is an unprecedented attempt at a vengeful political persecution. The absence of any proof in the case file against me and against [former PM] Alexis Tsipras makes this ridiculous,” he said in a statement.
Papangelopoulos said the government is trying to “hide the truth” and “distract the Greek public in order to conceal the serious responsibilities not just in the Novartis scandal, but also in its investigation.”