Simitis sidesteps probe

Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday rejected calls by the opposition to have the government play an active role in opening foreign bank accounts suspected of having been used to bribe people in Greece and abroad, saying that the government would help the judiciary if it received any request from it. «We are prepared to do anything possible,» Simitis said. In a heated session of question time in Parliament, Simitis rejected demands by New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis and Left Coalition leader Nikos Constantopoulos to press for the opening of the accounts said to belong to businessman Socrates Kokkalis. Constantopoulos replied by saying that he would call for the activation of a parliamentary committee created to deal with money laundering, in order to facilitate the opening of Kokkalis’s accounts. Simitis responded that the institutions were working flawlessly and that some people «want to create an impression and become heroes.» But Simitis also launched an attack on the conservatives, saying that New Democracy «adopts a fascist-like climate» in the «naive belief» that it will benefit from this in the next elections. Meanwhile, Kokkalis Intracom Group yesterday issued a statement titled «A reply to mudslingers,» in which it responded to the charges of espionage, fraud, money laundering, embezzlement, bribery, and of violating stock exchange regulations and deceiving investors. The group also attacked Kathimerini, which has been publishing the findings and testimony from a German parliamentary investigation into Kokkalis’s contacts with the East German security apparatus. «These circles, which act permanently as an invisible company of mudslingers who undermine every genuine Greek effort to produce things, cannot accept that the great and nationally important sector of telecommunications and information technology is no longer open to the profiteering of all kinds of middlemen who never created anything in this country,» the statement said. It denied the espionage charges and called for the publication of the judicial investigations that led to the charges against Kokkalis. «There is no violation,» it said.

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