NEWS

German MP: Athens should dig deeper

A member of the German parliamentary committee that investigated Greek tycoon Socrates Kokkalis’s links with the East German secret service yesterday urged Athens to pursue the case further, saying that the German committee had been limited by time and its mandate. Friedhelm Julius Beucher, a member of Parliament for the SPD, said he believed that Kokkalis had a «deep relationship» with the East German security apparatus. The committee said in its report in May 1998 that Kokkalis, who was brought up in East Germany and studied in Berlin and Moscow, had been a secret agent for the East Germans from 1963 to 1968 and remained in contact until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. It did not find conclusive evidence that Kokkalis had set up his companies in Greece with East German funds or had been involved in funneling Western industrial secrets to East Germany, in contravention of a Western embargo. A Greek prosecutor last Tuesday charged Kokkalis with such espionage, money laundering, fraud, embezzlement and bribery. The 63-year-old billionaire says the charges are a conspiracy by his political enemies and newspapers. «Seeing as these issues concern the Greek judiciary, then the investigation does not need to begin from scratch,» Beucher told the Greek service of the German Deutsche Welle radio. «Much evidence has been collected both by the German Attorney General at Karlsruhe as well as by the Berlin prosecutor, but also in the archives of the German Parliament and the Independent Committee for the Investigation of the Property of East Germany at the Interior Ministry. Access to this material is both easy and must be pursued,» Beucher said. «I want to believe that the Greek government does not want to resign itself of this right nor that it will be able to.» Beucher argued that, given the evidence of contacts between Kokkalis and the East Germans, «Someone would have to be very naive not to want to realize that perhaps he was a member of a secret apparatus… The fact that many things related to Mr Kokkalis were not proved does not mean they did not happen.» Beucher had claimed in the past that a conservative Greek government in 1992 had asked the Germans to cover up for Kokkalis.