NEWS

Findings due on procurements

The parliamentary committee probing arms deals signed by the previous PASOK government is due to reconvene today in an effort to thrash out a finding which, sources told Kathimerini yesterday, is likely to slam two former defense ministers for their dealings but stop short of prompting a criminal prosecution. The committee is investigating the purchase of US radar systems and Russian air defense missiles while Akis Tsochadzopoulos and Yiannos Papantoniou were defense ministers. If found guilty of any wrongdoing, they could have their parliamentary immunity to prosecution removed. Sources told Kathimerini that the New Democracy MPs sitting on the committee want to level charges of oversight and responsibility for actions that harmed the state against the two former ministers, especially with regard to the apparent failings of the systems bought during their time in office. However, sources indicate that the majority of conservative MPs will not adopt a clear position on whether they believe the former ministers deliberately acted in this manner for their personal gain – a finding which would automatically lead to the setting up of another special parliamentary committee. If they opt for a more general ruling, it would be up to Parliament to decide whether to take any further action or not. PASOK MPs taking part in the committee are expected to vehemently argue that the probe has proved the ex-ministers did nothing wrong and that the whole process was politically motivated, with current Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos likely to be the main target of their accusations along with the Defense Ministry’s general secretary for procurements, Giorgos Zorbas. Meanwhile, in another development, a middleman in one of the deals being investigated by the MPs wrote to the committee yesterday asking that it re-examine Tsochadzopoulos. Yiannis Yanikos, who claims that he arranged a meeting between the former minister and a representative of Russian company Antey in 1997 and then helped negotiate a 20-24 percent discount on the TOR M1 missile systems, alleged that the ex-minister was lying when he told the committee that the two had never met in person.