NEWS

Siemens handover bid ‘incomplete’

The slim chances of Germany agreeing to extradite a key suspect in the Siemens cash-for-contracts scandal have been dealt a further blow by the failure of Greek judicial authorities to send a detailed arrest warrant to prosecutors in Munich, sources told Kathimerini yesterday. Judicial sources in the Bavarian city said that the information contained in the warrant for the arrest of the former Siemens Hellas managing director Michalis Christoforakos was «unclear» and «generalized.» Christoforakos, who has both Greek and German passports, failed to appear in court in Athens last week and let it be known via his lawyer that he was in Germany and was unable to travel due to health problems. Germany rarely agrees to the extradition of its citizens but it seems that Greek authorities have made their goal of bringing Christoforakos back to Athens even more difficult due to a couple of major oversights in the warrant they sent. Firstly, they did not make clear in the document that the crimes Christoforakos is charged with, namely setting up a slush fund to bribe politicians and public officials so they would award Siemens contracts, have a clear connection to Greece. This is a significant aspect of the case against the former Siemens manager, as his lawyers are expected to argue that any money came from the German parent company and was paid into the foreign bank accounts of Greek officials, which means there is no reason for him to stand trial in Greece. Secondly, Greek authorities have failed to indicate what sentence Christoforakos could face if found guilty. The crime of bribing a public official carries a life sentence in Greece and in the past Germany has refused to extradite its citizens if it feels that the sentence they face is not commensurate with their alleged crime. The Germans are also likely to ask that the citizen, in this case Christoforakos, be allowed to serve any prison term in Germany.