Second of 2 'protected' witnesses, main accusors, in Novartis case also a 'no show' on Wed.

Wednesday, 19 February 2020 17:54
UPD:18:09
INTIME NEWS/ΖΑΧΟΣ ΓΙΩΡΓΟΣ
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The second of two "protected" witnesses that previously implicated 10 past prime ministers, ministers and even Greece's central banker as recipients of kickbacks by Novartis' Greek subsidiary on Wednesday also failed to appear before members of a Parliamentary committee of inquiry.

The development comes a day after the first such anonymous witness was also a "no show" before the committee, with an warrant issued for his arrest and conveyance before the committee.

The Parliamentary committee was established by a majority vote to investigate allegations that former deputy justice minister Dimitris Papaggelopoulos orchestrated a judicial conspiracy revolving around the Novartis probe by an anti-corruption prosecutor's office.

After more than two years into an investigation, dozens of sessions where a trio of initial and purported "whistle-blowers" testified before the relevant prosecutor, Eleni Touloupaki, and vigorous press coverage by a handful then pro-government and pro-SYRIZA media outlets, seven of the 10 cases were shelved by the latter. Three cases remain active, with only one past minister, Andreas Loverdos, summoned for questioning in the capacity of a suspect in wrongdoing.

None of the other nine politicians were ever summoned to respond to the allegations that they received kickbacks. Touloupaki also avoided summoning former Novartis Greece GM Constantinos Frouzis to testify, in the face of allegations by the "protected" witnesses that he personally paid off the politicians.

The 10 office-holders, including former PM Antonis Samaras, previous EU Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, current BoG Gov. Yannis Stournaras and nearly every health minister from 2010 to 2015 were implicated, with Touloupaki requesting and receiving from Parliament the right to question any of them in the case.

A massive political "push back" resulted, with opposition parties pointing directly to a "judicial conspiracy" aimed at sullying leftist SYRIZA party's political rivals, and in achieving a victory against entrenched corruption ahead of a general election.

On its part, deputies in SYRIZA party, the current main opposition in Parliament, have decried what they call an attempt to intimidate and scare witnesses, while even charging that the legal framework for the protection of whistle-blowers is threatened in the country.

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