Siemens judge Germany-bound

Magistrate Nikos Zagorianos, who is heading the investigation into the Siemens bribery scandal in Greece, is due to travel to Germany in the next few days to be briefed on how his request for the extradition of former Siemens Hellas CEO Michalis Christoforakos is progressing, after it emerged there may be a new delay in the case. A Justice Ministry statement released yesterday said that Justice Minister Nikos Dendias approved Zagorianos’s trip following a conversation with Supreme Court prosecutor Yiannis Tentes. Zagorianos had issued an international arrest warrant for Christoforakos in May after the former executive failed to appear in court in Athens to answer questions in connection to allegations that he operated a slush fund that was used to bribe Greek politicians and public officials so his company could win state contracts. Christoforakos, who holds German as well as Greek nationality, was arrested near Munich in late June after evading Greek justice for about 40 days. Greek judicial authorities immediately began proceedings to secure his return to Athens. He has been fighting the extradition request but, earlier this month, a spokesman for the Munich prosecutor’s office, Alfons Obermeier, suggested that authorities in Germany would soon give the green light for Christoforakos to be returned to Greece. However, some doubt was cast on this when it emerged on Saturday that the prosecutor’s office has recommended Christoforakos’s imprisonment for paying bribes to political parties in Greece between 2004 and 2007. The former executive’s legal team has appealed, as Christoforakos denies bribery. It is a move that, according to some legal experts, could hold up his extradition for up to a year, although it seems certain that at some point during that time he will be sent back to Athens. There has been no word yet on the whereabouts of Christos Karavelas, a former Siemens financial manager who also fled Greece in June.