ATHENS – With a convicted embezzler returned to jail after getting out on what appeared to be a bogus medical certificate, Greek anti-corruption prosecutors are looking into the early releases of another 700 who said they had a disability.
The probe comes after former power firm executive Aristidis Floros, also tied to an assassination attempt of a lawyer, produced a certificate that showed he had epileptic seizures and a psychiatric problem, qualifying for a 67 percent disability, the minimum needed for a get-out-of-jail card.
Inmates have to serve one-fifth of their sentence before being eligible but Floros got out only 18 months into a 21-year sentence although a prosecutor said it was too lenient and had recommended life given the scope of his theft.
Floros, 39 was convicted to 21 years in prison in February 2017 for embezzlement, smuggling and money laundering over the Energa power company scandal, as well as to another 13 years in 2014 for ordering an assassination attempt against a lawyer, was arrested Aug. at his home in the southern Athens suburb of Glyfada.
He had been released from Halkida Prison after presenting judicial authorities with medical evidence that he suffered a disability.
A doctor at the Capital’s Evangelismos Hospital is suspected of arranging it so that Floros would be given medical certificates claiming he suffered from seizures and had a disability of 67 percent and is being investigated already.
That policy was established by the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, a party riddled with terrorist and anarchist supporters and those who want the prisons essentially emptied. It’s called the Paraskevopoulos Law after former Justice Minister Nikos Paraskevopoulos.
Many of the 700 were freed legally but many others reportedly secured their release using illegal certifications and loopholes in the law, Kathimerini said.
All will be reviewed, however, by prosecutors looking for any irregularities or fraud. Major rival New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he would scrap the law if he comes to power with his party having big leaders with elections required by October, 2019.
Prosecutors involved in the Floros case are investigating the role of doctors in the Floros case and a doctor at Evangelismos Hospital confessed to forging the health certificate for Floros but denied receiving a bribe without explaining why it was done, the paper said.
Hospital Director, Spyros Zakinthinos reportedly suggested that the doctor was more deeply involved in the scam and the doctor involved is going to be grilled further, as well as other doctors who signed health certificates on Floros’s behalf.
Floros was the Managing Director of Energa, which, along with another power company, Hellas Power, withheld more than 100 million euros ($115.8 million) from the Greek state through a special property tax levied via electricity bills.
The companies collected the levies between September 2011 and November 2012 but subsequently failed to hand the money over to the state. There was no report where the money went, how much Floros pocketed or if he still had any.
Other hospitals and doctors are also said be under the scope of the growing probe with judicial sources telling the paper that the corruption prosecutor’s office has collected documents and invalidity certificates issued for Floros from all the state hospitals and the Korydallos Prison Hospital, where he had been treated.
Apart from the doctors, prosecutors are also looking into lawyers who signed the detention order or handled the case on behalf of Floros since it began.