NEWS

Christoforakos to remain in Germany

A top German court yesterday ruled against the extradition to Greece of former Siemens Hellas CEO Michalis Christoforakos, a key suspect in a cash-for-contracts scandal, dealing a serious blow to efforts by Greek authorities to put the former executive on trial on charges of alleged money laundering and bribery. The three judges of the Federal Constitutional Court, based in Karlsruhe, all voted to overturn earlier rulings by a public prosecutor and an appeals court in Munich that had approved Christoforakos’s extradition to Greece. According to sources, the decision by the Karlsruhe court does not include criticism of an 18-month investigation by the Greek judiciary into alleged misdeeds by the former Siemens Hellas CEO, though it is said to criticize the earlier German rulings, describing them as «arbitrary» interpretations of the rule of law. According to the latest court ruling, Christoforakos’s constitutional rights had been violated by the earlier verdicts. Christoforakos’s lawyer, who argued that the charges brought against his client fell under the statute of limitations, remarked that yesterday’s ruling «vindicates us in our interpretation of the law.» «This is probably the happiest day in my professional life,» Stefan Kursawe told Kathimerini. In a related development, court sources in Athens revealed that a council of appeals court judges will rule on September 17 on whether or not an ongoing investigation into the Siemens cash-for-contracts scandal should be transferred from prosecutor Nikos Zagorianos to a higher-ranking appeals court magistrate. Supreme Court prosecutor Ioannis Tentes is believed to have sought the transfer due to concerns about the direction the investigation has taken.