Lawsuits by trio of top politicians implicated in never-ending Novartis probe reopened

Monday, 24 June 2019 20:15
REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann
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A request by a deputy supreme court prosecutor to reopen lawsuits filed by a trio of top politicians implicated in the controversial - and still ongoing - Novartis kickbacks investigation was approved on Monday by his superior, high court prosecutor Xeni Dimitriou.

The lawsuits were filed by former prime minister Antonis Samaras and former ministers Evangelos Venizelos and Dimitris Avramopoulos, the latter being a current EU Commissioner.

Essentially, the trio of top politicians have vociferously alleged that the Novartis probe, at least over the last two years, is a judicial "conspiracy" aimed at sullying the reputation of nearly a dozen pre-eminent political rivals of the outgoing hard left SYRIZA government.

Despite years of inquiries and the questioning of scores of people, no charges have been referred to trial, only "indications" and accusations of wrong-doing made over the past year and a half by a trio of anonymous witnesses to anti-corruption prosecutor Eleni Touloupaki. The latter's office, however, has failed to corroborate the allegations so far, only conveying a relevant indictment to Parliament, given that the allegations referred to previous office-holders still enjoying Parliament immunity covering their tenure in ministerial posts.

Deputy Supreme Court Prosecutor Yannis Angelis presented another 10 documents this week that he said comprised new evidence in the case.

The reopened lawsuits, in this instance, deal only with the prospect of wrongdoing on the part of Touloupaki and two of her closest associates, such as possible dereliction of duty and breach of faith.

However, another portion of Samaras' lawsuit, which seeks legal action against Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and outgoing Alternate Justice Minister Dimitris Papaggelopoulos, was referred to Parliament a year ago, with no action taken in the period until the plenum was dissolved this month.

Samaras on Saturday directly charged that an oft-cited"architect" of the alleged judicial conspiracy, referred to in the press as "Rasputin", is none other than Papaggelopoulos.

At one point last year, Papaggelopoulos appeared outside the prime minister's office to address waiting television cameras, referring to what he called "...the greatest scandal since the establishment of the Greek state."

Papaggelopoulos is also noteworthy for the fact that he served as a top anti-terrorism prosecutor during a ND government between 2004 and 2009, as well as the head of Greece's intelligence agency for a few months in 2009.

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