Army’s ex-chief takes back missile criticism

In a major reversal for the government, a key witness in the parliamentary probe on previous state arms purchases yesterday retracted his earlier testimony, which had been damning for the previous, PASOK government. Former Army Chief of Staff Costas Panayiotakis told MPs investigating Greece’s purchase of the Russian Tor M1 air defense missile system that he judged the weapon’s selection as «correct and legal.» Testifying before a prosecutor in June, Panayiotakis had described the purchase as «a peculiar choice that raises many questions.» Yesterday, the former army chief also reversed his initial estimate that Greece’s main defense line against Turkey lies in the Aegean Islands, to claim that the main external threat was focused on Thrace. This also helped back PASOK’s rationale for the selection of the Russian system.