NEWS

Parties on edge over Siemens

New Democracy has denied that the head of the parliamentary committee that heard an ex-PASOK minister admit last week he had accepted money from the electronics giant Siemens, also has evidence that a former conservative minister received bribes from the firm. As the political stakes in the Siemens probe skyrocket after the admission of former Transport Minister Tassos Mantelis that he took money from Siemens Hellas, ND officially denied reports yesterday that the chairman of the panel of MPs, Sifis Valyrakis, had incriminating evidence about one of its ex-ministers. It was claimed that Valyrakis had a note written by former Siemens Hellas CEO Michalis Christoforakos which suggested that a bribe was paid to a minister in the administration of ex-Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis in 2008. However, ND deputy and member of the parliamentary committee Costas Tzavaras said that it was impossible for Christoforakos to have written the note in 2008 as he had left Greece for Germany in December 2007. The committee members are due to discuss tomorrow whether to call the minister in question to give evidence. There is pressure for former PASOK leader and ex-Prime Minister Costas Simitis to also face the inquiry panel. Simitis, who was premier between 1996 and 2004, said his appearance before the committee would only fuel speculation. «When it is suggested that a former prime minister be called to answer questions without any evidence or testimony that relates to him personally, then speculation, baseless hypotheses, accusations and insulting statements will dominate.» New Democracy, which had been reluctant to allow its former leader and prime minister, Costas Karamanlis, to appear before the committee investigating the Vatopedi Monastery land swap, said that it would be appropriate for Simitis to speak, as two of his close aides, Mantelis and Theodoros Tsoukatos, have now admitted to accepting money from Siemens. «New Democracy does not seek to target or implicate anyone but it believes that we all have a duty to help clear up all these scandals, which cast a long shadow over public life,» the party said in a statement on Saturday.