Slow process of extradition begins

It could be a couple of weeks before German authorities are ready to begin considering Greece’s application for the extradition of former managing director of Siemens Hellas Michalis Christoforakos, sources said yesterday, as two Greek officials flew to Munich to get the process started. Magistrate Nikos Zagorianos, who is in charge of the investigation into the Greek branch of Siemens’s alleged payment of millions of euros in bribes to politicians and public officials, and an official from the prosecutor’s office, Evangelos Pantioros, left for Germany yesterday in a bid to secure Christoforakos’s return. The former executive was arrested south of Munich early on Thursday after evading Greek justice for about 40 days. He failed to appear in court in Athens to face questioning as regards his alleged role in the management of a slush fund used to secure contracts for Siemens Hellas. Christoforakos’s lawyers have said that they will fight any extradition request and sources told Kathimerini that German authorities may not begin looking at the application for another couple of weeks, as some paperwork from Greece is still missing. Christoforakos has dual citizenship and is likely to rely on the fact that Germany rarely extradites its citizens abroad to stand trial. Sources said that German prosecutors seem to be in agreement with the defendant’s lawyers that the charges against him are too vague – they don’t, for instance, set out specifically who he is alleged to have bribed and when – as well as that he risks incriminating himself if he responds to them. The lawyers have also expressed surprise that the charge sheet does not identify any of the politicians who were allegedly paid off and only mentions a contract that Siemens signed with OTE in the late 1990s.