Ruling on status of witnesses expected Monday

Ruling on status of witnesses expected Monday

Supreme Court authorities will rule Monday on the status of the witness protection regime for key whistleblowers who have been summoned to testify by the parliamentary committee conducting a preliminary inquiry into the handling of the Novartis bribery case by the previous administration. 

On Thursday, a delegation of the committee petitioned Supreme Court prosecutors to look into the status of key whistleblowers after two of them failed to show up to testify last week.

Members of the committee called on prosecutors to ensure that protected witnesses be examined.

Meanwhile Supreme Court deputy prosecutor Panayiotis Brakoumatsos said that the law stipulates, among other things, that protected witnesses should have a say in the way they are examined.

According to parliamentary sources, the prosecutor’s statement will be taken into account by the committee in determining precisely how the protected witnesses will testify.

The relevant article of the law regarding protected witnesses states that protective measures (custody, manner of deposition etc) are taken with the consent of the witness and on the condition that they do not limit his or her individual liberty. These measures, the law says, will be interrupted if the witness so requests. 

On Tuesday, bench warrants had to be issued for two of the protected witnesses, known by the pseudonyms Maximos Sarafis and Ekaterini Kelesi, after they failed to present themselves for scheduled hearings at Athens Police Headquarters and refused to be questioned by the parliamentary committee.

Brakoumatsos said that the issuing of bench warrants for the two witnesses was a legal act.

In a development late Friday, Sarafis appeared at Athens Police Headquarters and is expected to testify on Monday afternoon.

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