More arms probe implications

Documents obtained by Kathimerini suggest that the parliamentary investigation into the PASOK government’s purchase of air defense missile systems should be widened to include probes into the roles of the Defense Council (SAM) and the Government Council for Defense and Foreign Policy (KYSEA). The papers seem to indicate that proper procurement procedures were not followed by these bodies during the purchase of the 21 Russian Tor M1 missile systems between 1998 and 2000, when Akis Tsochadzopoulos was defense minister. Greek law sets out a specific chain of command on procurement, which must be followed before the military can spend money on new equipment. First, a technical panel must be set up to look into the proposed purchase. It then delivers a written report to SAM, which in turn makes its recommendations to KYSEA, which makes the final decision. Documents show that SAM convened on Oct. 7, 1998, a month after the expert panel was formed, and decided to recommend the purchase of the missile systems to KYSEA, before the experts had delivered a report. The technicians actually submitted their verdict the next day. On Oct. 9, KYSEA approved the Tor M1 purchase, based on a recommendation by SAM that carried no signatures; they appear to have been added in January 1999. Furthermore, the expert report seems to have focused on different systems from those recommended by SAM to KYSEA. The prices of the equipment also vary from document to document. Former military officials involved in the deal told the prosecutor whose probe led to the parliamentary investigation that the systems, which cost some $150 million, were not the best choice for Greece’s military.