NEWS

The 10-year probe into links with the Stasi

Investigations into the relationship between Socrates Kokkalis and the former East German secret service (Stasi) began in 1992. When the Federal Republic of Germany incorporated the former East Germany (GDR), it began to look for secret companies and capital in an attempt to raise property claims. A series of prosecutors and investigating magistrates from Berlin’s federal prosecutor’s bureau, a German parliamentary committee and other ad hoc committees looked into the activities of the agent known as Rocco, recruited on January 25, 1963, who not only acted as an informer but helped break the West’s technology embargo on the GDR. In Greece, as the investigation into the controversy surrounding digital technology telephones at the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) got under way, Kokkalis’s involvement with the Stasi first came to light in a surprise report by the then appeals court prosecutor, Georgios Zorbas. «The main investigation should also look into the form and origin of property owned by Intracom, in view of information in the preliminary investigation (of the digital technology telephones), in which income from the property was found to be linked to illegal gains from the Stasi. If the investigation is to be successful, the case should be assigned to the appeals court investigating magistrate,» wrote Zorbas. After Zorbas’s transfer, no one from the Greek judiciary investigated the case. Kokkalis hired leading legal firms Schon, Nolte, Finkelnburg and Clemm, Norbert Vimmer and Neil Clemm. On June 19, 1996, his lawyers asked to see all the documents in the possession of the German authorities that referred to their client. Meanwhile, in the summer of 1997, it was leaked that the Independent Commission on Monitoring Communist Party Property (SED) and property owned by the former East Germany (UKPV) that had been obstructed (perhaps by a deal made without its knowledge) had not made any claims against Intracom. Nevertheless, the Kokkalis file, in which the Germans no longer had any interest, was cast aside, with its evidence on Rocco, Operation Cascadeur and other issues. It was never asked for by the Greek authorities, irrespective of the fact that the Stasi files were often referred to, within reports compiled by the Greek Police (ELAS), as the vital lead in the terrorist attack by the urban guerrilla group ELA against the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Athens in April 1983. Between 1995 and 1997, Kathimerini published a number of reports containing evidence that was never investigated. An invisible hand protected Rocco, the bank accounts, associates and spies, as well as those whom Kathimerini revealed to be receiving money from East German bank accounts belonging to Kokkalis. German parliamentary deputies, such as the Commission’s Vice President Friedrich Beucher, made reference to a cover-up, wasting an opportunity to restore German property valued at hundreds of millions of Deutschemarks. Suddenly, four years later, public prosecutor Dimitris Papangelopoulos did what no one else had done. He went to Germany and got hold of the files containing evidence that Kokkalis had committed espionage against Greece. Yesterday, Papangelopoulos’s colleagues spoke of his bravery, hinting that he had recently received a barrage of threats. Apart from Kathimerini’s reports between 1995-1997, there were also reports of Kokkalis’s relations with the Stasi on Antenna television and in newspapers such as Eleftherotypia and Eleftheros Typos. However, they were not enough to lead to a judicial inquiry. It is said that the investigation was obstructed for yet another reason – that in some Stasi documents and files there was reference to the fact that in Kokkalis’s contracts with Greek state companies, which showed a preference for East German equipment, commissions were paid to Greek political parties. The government Now that espionage charges have been lodged against Kokkalis (causing considerable shock), it is not known how the government will deal with the person who is the major supplier of information technology to OTE and the public sector, who is also one of the main suppliers of the armed forces and at the same time a media baron. It is also unclear how the USA (which is particularly sensitive after September 11, 2001) will react when it hears of the charges against Kokkalis, with whom the US military (and not only) industries have entered into joint ventures to produce weapons systems.