New round of charges fly in justice scandal
The investigation into corruption in the judiciary stepped up a gear yesterday as magistrates issued criminal and misdemeanor charges against 16 people – seven lawyers, five judges, a prosecutor, two businessmen and a court employee. Magistrates Yiannis Sideris and Yiannis Fiorakis have been gathering evidence and investigating a number of bank accounts over the last months as they tried to establish whether a second alleged trial-fixing ring existed. Prosecutors charged 15 people in June with being involved in a corrupt ring that fixed the outcome of trials, particularly in securing the early release of drug dealers, in return for payment. Since January, 11 judicial officials have been sacked and 24 others had charges filed against them as part of the investigation into the biggest corruption scandal to rock the Greek justice system. A range of criminal and misdemeanor charges were filed yesterday against the 16 suspects, including money laundering, fraud, abuse of power, bribery and giving false statements. The five judges who have been charged are: Olga Darla, Paraskevi Leon, Georgia Lambropoulou, Nikos Potamianos and Aspasia Basta. Lambropoulou and Potamianos have already been suspended while Basta was sacked by the Supreme Court last month for lack of moral scruples. Similar charges have been filed against former deputy appeals prosecutor Nikos Athanassopoulos. He was also fired for a lack of moral scruples in May. Potamianos, Lambropoulou, Athanassopoulos and Basta have all been linked to cases involving former priest Iakovos Yiossakis, who is alleged to have been a middleman in the trial-fixing ring that has allegedly been uncovered. Yiossakis went on trial yesterday for the theft of antiquities from a monastery in Kythera. Darla and Leon have been charged in connection to a case where a monk was awarded 480,000 euros in damages after a car accident. Prosecutors have also called on seven lawyers to stand trial: Nektarios Athanassopoulos, Stavroula Psira, Petros Machas, Maria Vracha, Sakis Kehayioglou, Giorgos Nikolakopoulos and Nikos Emmanouilidis. The last three will face criminal charges while the rest have been charged with misdemeanors. Businessmen Yiannis Boletsis and Sotiris Kritikos were charged by prosecutors in connection to the outcome of two trials where they were the defendants. Court official Anastassios Karatzas is also due to stand trial in relation to a case involving Yiossakis.