NEWS

Alleged fund misuse

As another legal report reached Parliament yesterday suggesting the possible implication of political figures in mismanagement, the government indicated that it wanted the parliamentary committee which will investigate the purchase of weapons systems by the previous government to complete its work quickly. A new case, involving the alleged misuse of $756,000 by the PASOK government in 2003, was submitted by prosecutors to Parliament yesterday. The money in question was donated by the US government to Greece as financial aid for the war on drugs. Although the cash was meant to be given to the coast guard department responsible for pursuing drug runners, it is claimed that 250,000 euros went toward covering the costs of an informal meeting of EU transport and marine ministers in May 2003 in Greece. Most of the remaining American money is said to have been spent by the Merchant Marine Ministry on covering various costs under the stewardship of then minister Giorgos Anomeritis. PASOK rejected the claims, accusing the government of scandalmongering. «It’s time for the government to stop hiding behind the prosecutors, which it has put into action itself either by transferring documents or by provoking related articles,» said opposition spokesman Nikos Athanassakis. Meanwhile, both New Democracy and PASOK yesterday put forward their proposals outlining what scope they would like the new parliamentary committee to have. The committee will investigate the army’s purchase of radar units and short-range air defense missiles while Akis Tsochadzopoulos and Yiannos Papantoniou were defense ministers. Currently, the former Socialist ministers have immunity from prosecution, but Parliament could lift it. PASOK wants the probe to extend to any deals the ruling conservatives have signed since coming to power but it is unlikely the committee will have such a wide remit. However, PASOK’s wish that the investigation be conducted rapidly seems to have the support of the Karamanlis government. «It’s the government’s intention that procedures progress quickly. I am aware that when cases come to Parliament, they cause many questions and stir up the political system,» said government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos.