Political tensions over the Novartis investigation simmered on Wednesday after former premier and SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras wrote to Parliament Speaker Konstantinos Tasoulas to complain about the exemption of leftist MPs Pavlos Polakis and Dimitris Tzanakopoulos from a House committee probing alleged meddling in the investigation.
Describing the two former ministers’ exclusion from the panel as “illegal” and a “brute deprivation of their parliamentary rights,” Tsipras called on Tasoulas to revoke the decision which, he claimed, upset “parliamentary order."
His intervention came after the committee tasked with probing whether former alternate justice minister Dimitris Papangelopoulos sought to influence the Novartis probe decided to eject Tzanakopoulos and Polakis due to their status as witnesses in the investigation, which, the panel deemed, constituted a potential conflict of interests.
Commenting later in the day, Tasoulas said Tsipras’ letter contained “legal and political arguments” and merited an answer in the same terms. “It is not an injunction, it is a letter.”
Asked by reporters whether he regarded the stated intention of Polakis and Tzanakopoulos to attend upcoming sessions of the committee despite its decision to exclude them as a “threat,” Tasoulas said he viewed it rather as an “erroneous, antiquated tactic that has no place in Greece’s Parliament and which Parliament cannot allow.”
Nevertheless, Tasoulas was expected to hold off asking Tsipras to appoint two MPs to replace Polakis and Tzanakopoulos, in a bid to avoid further fanning tensions.
Instead sources indicated that a compromise would be sought before next Tuesday when the panel’s next session is scheduled for.