Multiple charges in missile inquiry

The results of a legal probe into the purchase of air defense missiles by the previous PASOK government will be submitted to Parliament next week and could lead to nine people being charged with damaging the Greek state, sources told Kathimerini yesterday. Prosecutor Panayiotis Athanassiou has decided to give his report to MPs because the evidence he has gathered indicates that responsibility for the purchases goes higher than military personnel and government officials, and could implicate former defense ministers Akis Tsochadzopoulos and Yiannos Papantoniou, sources said. Greece bought 21 TOR-M1 systems between 1998 and 2000 for some $473 million to defend army units in the eastern Aegean. But many of the missiles are still not operational and Greece missed out on some $63 million in offsets. After a parliamentary committee could not decide last year whether Tsochadzopoulos was guilty of any wrongdoing, prosecutors began investigating the case. Athanassiou has concluded that the army officers who negotiated the deal were guilty of damaging the state, according to sources. He has identified nine people – not government officials – who could face charges. One army officer is likely to face money laundering charges. Parliament could be forced to re-examine the case once Athanassiou’s file lands in the hands of MPs.