Date for judge’s graft trial set

The first trial of a judge accused of being part of an alleged trial-fixing ring is to begin on May 8, it was revealed yesterday, as the Greek justice system gears up for what is likely to be a particularly busy period. Former judge Leonidas Stathis was sacked from his post as court of first instance president last April after being charged with accepting bribes to issue favorable decisions. On May 8, he will also face charges of money laundering. Stathis allegedly accepted bribes totaling 54 million drachmas (158,500 euros) from 10 lawyers so his rulings would favor their clients. Both offenses are classified as misdemeanors, but if Stathis is found guilty he faces 10-20 years in jail. When Stathis was remanded in custody last year, allegations about a widespread network involving lawyers, judges and prosecutors began to unravel. So far, only the date for Stathis’s trial has been set. Justice Minister Anastassis Papaligouras yesterday encouraged ex-judge Antonia Ilia and former magistrate Constantina Bourboulia to cooperate with authorities. Bourboulia was brought back to Greece from France earlier this month after eluding authorities for several months. Ilia, however, is still at large and Papaligouras said she would not be able to hide forever. The minister added that Apostolos Vavilis, another suspect who had evaded Greek justice for several months, would be brought back to Greece from Italy in a few days.