NEWS

PASOK pursues five ex-ministers

PASOK called yesterday for five former ministers in the previous New Democracy government to stand trial for their part in the allegedly corrupt real estate exchange between the state and the Vatopedi Monastery. The members of the ruling party that took part in the parliamentary committee delivered a report to Parliament in which they recommend that, based on the evidence examined, former State Minister and government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos, former Public Order Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis, former Deputy Economy and Finance Minister Petros Doukas, former Agriculture Minister Evangelos Basiakos and his deputy Alexandros Kontos be brought to trial. All five are accused of helping the Mount Athos monastery get its hands on prime public property in exchange for land of a lesser value around Lake Vistonida in northern Greece. Under the immunity law that applies to former ministers, the five should not stand trial as there have been two general elections and changes of Parliament since the alleged offenses are meant to have been committed. However, PASOK argues that the five were involved in committing a financial crime from which the monastery is still benefiting, therefore their alleged offenses should not be expunged. The Socialists also claim that some of the contracts signed as a result of the ministers’ decisions were done so after September 2007, when the penultimate general elections were held, which means that immunity would not apply. New Democracy, which walked off the parliamentary committee last month in protest at the course of the investigation, accused PASOK of «a clear fabrication.» «We should not confuse the political and public relations part with the criminal one,» said ND deputy Costas Tasoulas. «ND assumed its political responsibility at the last elections but there is no criminal case to answer because you would need clear intent and this does not exist.» Parliament will now have to vote on whether to indict the five ex-ministers. A simple majority, which the government possesses comfortably, would be enough. The vote is likely to take place after the November 7 local elections. Then the politicians will go before a special court made up of seven Supreme Court judges and six from the Council of State who will decide whether the men should stand trial.