Ex-minister fights back on missiles

There were heated exchanges yesterday as former Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou testified before the parliamentary committee investigating arms deals conducted by the previous PASOK government. «Not even after the violent overthrow of a government does a minister condemn his predecessor like this,» said Papantoniou in reference to accusations by the current minister, Spilios Spiliotopoulos, that Papantoniou had neglected his duty during the purchase of Russian air-defense missile systems and US-made radar units. The session was halted three times because of the tense atmosphere. The former minister argued that in the case of the Russian TOR-M1 systems, his input had in no way harmed the Greek state. Papantoniou said that he had intervened several times in the deal to move it along when it had stalled because of disagreements over offsets, a letter of guarantee and the suitability of the weapons. As for the TPQ radar units, Papantoniou said that it was not a deal he had signed. Spiliotopoulos is due to testify before the panel today.