Court lets trial-fixing charges fly

A top Supreme Court prosecutor yesterday called for charges ranging from money laundering to bribery to be brought against 15 people – including a priest, several judges and a celebrity lawyer – suspected of participation in a trial-fixing ring. Deputy Supreme Court prosecutor Giorgos Sanidas ordered Athens chief appeals prosecutor Antonis Plomaritis yesterday afternoon to issue the formal accusations – four criminal charges and 13 misdemeanors. The bulk of the charges concern an alleged trial-fixing ring involving judges, lawyers and a doctor, which had a churchman at its center. The group is suspected of having manipulated court proceedings in return for payment, so that drug dealers could secure early release from prison and drug-trafficking suspects could dodge jail. Further charges include money laundering. Archimandrite Iakovos Yiossakis, the alleged middleman, is to be charged with money laundering and fraud – both criminal charges. The priest is now in custody in Korydallos Prison on separate charges of stealing antiquities. In a statement yesterday, he said the charges bordered on the «wicked» and would prove to be unfounded. Yiossakis will also face charges of forming a corrupt ring together with deputy appeals court prosecutor Nikos Athanassopoulos, first instance judges Antonia Ilia and Panayiota Tsevi, celebrity lawyer Sakis Kehayioglou and his colleagues Giorgos Nikolakopoulos and Nikos Emmanouilidis. Kehayioglou and Nikolakopoulos are due to be charged with bribing judges, while Emmanouilidis will face money-laundering charges. Ilia is alleged to have been particularly active in the ring and will rack up a total of eight charges. She said yesterday that she had been put under immense pressure, bordering on blackmail, by senior members of the judiciary when trying certain drug-related cases. Piraeus court of first instance presidents Nikolaos Potamianos and Georgia Lambropoulou, a married couple, are to be charged with breach of duty and not informing authorities of possible conflicts of interests in cases that they tried. Potamianos and his wife were accused of ensuring that they were chosen to handle cases concerning Yiossakis, or his friends and close associates, and always ruling in his favor. Meanwhile, a doctor has also been added to the list of suspects. Emmanouil Niotis, a doctor at the Athens NIMTS hospital, will face charges of making false declarations that were used to secure the early release of drug dealers on grounds of ill health. The others to be charged are court clerk Anastassis Karatzas, for falsifying a public document, judges Aspasia Basta and Anna Korovesi, for breach of duty, and first instance president Maroulio Daviou, for abuse of power in not charging Yiossakis with antiquities theft.