Criminal probe on arms is possible

The president of a parliamentary committee investigating alleged wrongdoings in Greece’s military procurements program under the previous Socialist government said yesterday he did not rule out setting up a special committee to investigate the criminal responsibility of former ministers. «The matter of setting up a special parliamentary committee to launch a preliminary (criminal) investigation remains open,» committee president Yiannis Tragakis said in a written statement in Parliament. The original committee’s work is almost done, although certain requests for evidence abroad have yet to be fulfilled. Parliament will decide on whether to open criminal proceedings against former defense ministers Akis Tsochadzopoulos and Yiannos Papantoniou, who served between 1996-2001 and 2001-2004 respectively. The four parliamentary parties have produced four separate reports on the committee’s findings. The Socialists claim the investigation turned up nothing of value despite the Defense Ministry’s efforts to concoct charges and the two left-wing parties arguing that the procurement system itself is corrupt and non-transparent, without specifying any wrongdoing by PASOK officials. «All governments, in the name of classified information and national security, want to manage the system exclusively, to further their own ends,» said Left Coalition MP Asimina Xyrotiri. The ruling New Democracy party has so far reserved its position on the ministers’ responsibility.

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