NEWS

ND backs ex-PM in Siemens probe

New Democracy officials yesterday came out in support of ex-Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis after PASOK indicated its intent to question him in connection to the Siemens cash-for-contracts scandal. Sources said current ND leader Antonis Samaras instructed party members to stand up for Karamanlis, who is likely to be asked to appear before a parliamentary inquiry after it was revealed that he had sent a thank-you note to former Siemens Hellas CEO Michalis Christoforakos after the general elections of 2004. The conservatives had played down the significance of the letter, saying that it was just a standard note sent to all those who had contributed to campaign funds. However, sources said that Samaras felt the party should position itself more prominently on the issue to show that it is not trying to distance itself from Karamanlis. «One could criticize the Karamanlis government for mistakes, omissions or delays in reforms, which he has already acknowledged,» said ND’s secretary for political planning Maximos Harakopoulos. «Nobody, however, can doubt the ex-prime minister’s moral standing.» Meanwhile, ND’s party secretary Lefteris Zagoritis as well as PASOK’s general director Robertos Spyropoulos denied contacting Christoforakos in September 2007 shortly before national elections after a newspaper report suggested that the agenda of the ex-CEO’s secretary indicated they had both called him. Zagoritris and Spyropoulos said they had not called and had no personal contact with Christoforakos, who is accused of operating slush funds to pay off politicians and public officials to secure public contracts for his firm.