NEWS

Delays, objections to graft probes

Former Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis yesterday telephoned the head of a parliamentary committee investigating the Vatopedi land-swap scandal to say that he would not testify before the committee in person, as requested, but would submit a written deposition next week. Dimitrios Tsironis, the head of the committee probing the exchange of land between the state and the Orthodox Church was clearly disappointed. «We would have preferred for Mr Karamanlis to appear in person but you do not force a former prime minister to testify,» he said. The call for Karamanlis to testify came after Katerina Peleki, who acted as a notary in the exchange, spoke of a «central political decision,» which she alleged came from Karamanlis’s office. The conservative opposition New Democracy party yesterday called for the probe into the land swap to be suspended until it is proven that the exchange had been to the detriment of the state. Meanwhile, ND leader Antonis Samaras called for the creation of a new parliamentary committee to establish «how we got to the rescue mechanism.» He was referring to an agreement signed between Greece and its European Union partners as well as the International Monetary Fund, according to which the country would be granted 110 billion euros in loan guarantees in exchange for taking austerity measures. In a related development, the head of another parliamentary committee investigating the Siemens cash-for-contracts scandal, Sifis Valyrakis, expressed exasperation after prosecutors involved in the case failed to bring criminal charges of breach of faith against the chairman and managing director of OTE telecom, Panagis Vourloumis, and other OTE officials. According to Valyrakis, there are «adequate indications» that the OTE officials failed to effectively check purchases from Siemens to avoid overpaying for technical support services. Valyrakis warned that «the failure to bring criminal charges against Vourloumis would be an insult to democracy and the Greek people.»