NEWS

Auction for German reparations looms

Relatives of the victims of a German wartime massacre declared yesterday that they will go ahead with the auction of German state property next week, arguing that the issue has been decided by the Greek courts. However, the Special Supreme Court is to rule on extraterritoriality – on whether Greek courts can rule on issues pertaining to foreign countries – on September 19, the same day that the auction is to be held. Also, a civil appeals court is to rule on a German request to freeze the auction procedure until the issue of extraterritoriality is solved. This, speakers at a news conference said, was the only ruling outstanding. The relatives and their representatives also replied angrily to a comment by Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Sunday that his government would do nothing while the issue was under the jurisdiction of the courts. It is absolutely untrue that the issue is sub judice, said George-Alexander Mangakis, an Athens University law professor and former justice minister, at a news conference held by groups pursuing German reparations. He argued that the essence of the issue has been solved and accused the government of unacceptable inertia in pursuing the compensation. The lower courts and the Supreme Court have ruled that the Distomo relatives should receive 9.4 billion drachmas, opening the way for the auctioning of the Goethe Institute and other property in Athens on September 19. Speakers yesterday again questioned Supreme Court President Stefanos Matthias’s objectivity in sending the issue of extraterritoriality to the Special Supreme Court after the Supreme Court ruling. The government has accused Evert, who revealed the reception of the report by Kaklamanis, of being in collusion with certain elements in the judiciary. Evert yesterday released internal documents of the State Accounting Office which showed that Christodoulakis had approved purchases of shares in high-capitalization stocks such as OTE telecom, National and Commercial banks and Hellenic Petroleum.