NEWS

Christoforakos return blocked

A top German court yesterday overturned a previous judicial ruling allowing the extradition of the ex-Siemens Hellas CEO Michalis Christoforakos to Greece, seemingly putting an end to hopes that he will stand trial in Athens in connection to bribery allegations. Christoforakos is alleged to have been behind a series of under-the-table payments to politicians and public officials in the 1990s and earlier this decade to secure state contracts for the Greek branch of the German electronics and engineering giant. A Munich appeals court had ruled in August that Christoforakos could be extradited to Greece to stand trial. Local authorities had tracked him down several weeks after he failed to appear in Athens for questioning. However, Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court, located in Karlsruhe, ruled yesterday that Christoforakos, who has German as well as Greek nationality, could not be returned to Athens because it would breach his rights as a German citizen. The constitutional court judged that the lesser court had been wrong to approve Christoforakos’s extradition on the basis of the request made by Greek authorities, describing its decision as «incomprehensible.» The Karlsruhe court also said that the allegations made by Greek authorities had been «very vague» and did not provide specific details about the time and place that Christoforakos’s alleged offenses took place. Judicial authorities in Athens were surprised in August when the constitutional court decided to hear an appeal by Christoforakos against his extradition but it now seems the same court has blown a big hole in the investigation into the corruption scandal, which will struggle to retain credibility in the absence of its main witness.