OA lawyer suggests Falcon plot

The defense lawyer for 10 Olympic Airways employees on trial for their handling of the freak accident that killed seven people on a Greek government jet over Romania in 1999 yesterday surprised the court by suggesting it should investigate «a series of inexplicable coincidences» for signs that the accident was caused by external agents. The state carrier’s lawyer, Ioannis Stamoulis – who was elected regional governor of Viotia in the ’90s on the socialist PASOK ticket – told the court that, according to press reports just after the September 14 accident, Washington had instructed Foreign Minister George Papandreou not to use the plane in which Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis, his son and two journalists, a cameraman, a flight engineer and a policeman died. He said US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright had told Papandreou to send Kranidiotis instead to the Balkan conference in Bucharest. The court president asked Stamoulis, who is also acting for relatives of the victims of the World War II Distomo massacre in their compensation bid against the German state, to back up his claims with documentary evidence. And lawyer Alexandros Lykourezos, who represents some of the victims’ families, called Stamoulis’s claims «unprecedented.» «The court is being asked to investigate an international conspiracy aiming to annihilate Yiannos Kranidiotis,» he observed. Stamoulis said the court should look into «coincidences» that he said included the absence of an electromagnetic shield over Romania, the presence of early warning aircraft over Bulgaria and Yugoslavia at the time and a naval exercise by Turkish forces in the Black Sea.