Late on Tuesday night MPs were poised to approve the creation of a parliamentary committee to probe possible crimes committed by former alternate justice minister Dimitris Papangelopoulos in connection with the Novartis investigation.
The panel is to determine whether Papangelopoulos sought to incriminate political rivals of leftist SYRIZA by suggesting that they were paid bribes by the Swiss pharmaceutical firm Novartis.
In a speech in Parliament ahead of the vote, SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras accused the conservative government of “a conscious attempt to criminalize political life” and of “a cowardly bid for revenge.”
Expressing his full support for Papangelopoulos, Tsipras said his former minister had been made a scapegoat “because he had the courage to highlight the Novartis scandal.”
The former premier also lashed out at the government for the bid to form the committee, declaring that the procedure would backfire.
Tsipras took a personal stab at Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who was in Cairo on Tuesday for a trilateral summit, declaring that the premier’s absence was “the greatest political cowardice” and calling on Mitsotakis to indict him too if he had “the spine” for it.
Papangelopoulos, for his part, said he would “transform my accusers into the accused,” describing his prosecution as “ridiculous.”
Conservative New Democracy spokesman Spilios Livanos defended Mitsotakis’ absence, saying that the decision to set up an investigative committee was one to be made by Parliament, not the government.
“It’s a purely parliamentary procedure,” he said, noting that neither Mitsotakis nor his ministers signed the proposal for a committee for that very reason.