NEWS

Blow for probe into missiles

A last-minute appeal to prevent the opening of two Swiss bank accounts could put an end to the probe into a suspect purchase of Russian missiles by the previous PASOK government, sources said yesterday. It was revealed that an appeal was made on Friday by a legal firm in Zurich 10 minutes before the deadline was due to run out. It is not known on whose behalf the firm was acting. A Swiss court had allowed the details of two bank accounts to be made known to Greek authorities who are investigating the purchase of 21 TOR-M1 missile systems between 1998 and 2000 for some $473 million. The deal was investigated by prosecutors and a committee of MPs amid claims that many of the missiles are not operational and that Greece missed out on offsets of some $63 million. Former defense ministers Akis Tsochadzopoulos and Yiannos Papantoniou have denied any wrongdoing. The delay in opening the accounts could mean that no charges are brought due to the statute of limitations for the alleged offenses.