PASOK turns screw; vote looms

PASOK filed a lawsuit yesterday against the two prosecutors it believes have blocked a proper investigation into the Vatopedi property deal, as attention begins to turn toward two crucial votes on the affair in Parliament next week. The Socialist party was joined by the right-wing Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) in asking for Supreme Court prosecutor Giorgos Sanidas and the head of the appeals prosecutors’ office, Kyriakos Karoutsos, to be investigated. The two parties allege that the pair failed to do their jobs properly and actively tried to cover up the involvement of politicians in the affair. PASOK and LAOS took the action after the two deputy prosecutors, who had been probing the allegations that taxpayers were shortchanged some 100 million euros during the exchange of property between the Vatopedi Monastery on Mount Athos and the state, decided to resign. They indicated that Karoutsos and Sanidas had prevented the case from reaching Parliament after they found evidence that culpability may have reached the ministerial level. The government dismissed yesterday’s move by the opposition parties as a publicity stunt. «It is an effort to bully judicial officials, which is in line with PASOK’s view that justice must be at the beck and call of political parties,» said Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis. The conservatives asked for an investigative committee to be set up in Parliament in a bid to stop claims of a cover-up. The motion is going to be debated and voted on Wednesday. After initially saying it would vote against the idea, as it wants a deeper inquiry, PASOK said yesterday that it would vote in favor. However, the Socialists’ request for a parliamentary pre-judicial inquiry, which has more powers as it can charge suspects, will be debated and voted on Friday. If all opposition parties support the move, three more votes will still be needed to make a 151 majority in the 300-seat House. As a result, ruling New Democracy is focusing on making sure its MPs stay within party lines.

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