Majority of MPs vote to lift Parliamentary immunity for controversial ex-minister Polakis

Wednesday, 31 July 2019 13:43
UPD:13:46
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A majority of Parliament deputies on Wednesday voted to lift the immunity of SYRIZA MP Pavlos Polakis, among the most controversial and outspoken ministers in the previous Tsipras government Cabinet, where he held the alternate health ministry portfolio.

Two lawsuits against Polakis reached Parliament's floor this week: one dealing with his alleged taping of a telephone call he made to Bank of Greece (BoG) Yannis Stournaras, and a defamation suit brought against him by the president of the association representing employees of Greece disease prevention center (KEELPO). Stournaras has charged that Polakis told him he was taping the conversation, ostensibly initiated by the latter to complain over a BoG probe into a bank law extended to Polakis while he was a minister. The president of the KEELPO employees' union, Stamatis Poulis, took legal recourse over Polakis' claims that he misappropriated agency funds. Poulis, who unsuccessfully stood in this month's general election with now ruling New Democracy (ND) party, was subsequently fired and referred to trial for breach of faith charges - something he has angrily said were politically motivated.

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The lawsuits were forwarded to the plenum by a majority vote of Parliament's code of ethics committee.

The motion to lift his immunity was approved by 163 deputies (out of 300) in the first case; 162 in the second. Ruling ND party MPs, 158 total, all voted in favor.

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Speaking earlier from Parliament's podium, Polakis, who is elected in Hania (Chania) prefecture in western Crete, charged what he called a "clear political persecution against him."  

Leftist SYRIZA's Parliamentary group later departed the chamber before the vote. The radical leftist party is now the main opposition in Greece, after coming in second in the July 7 general election.

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