ATHENS – Five people convicted in a massive trial-fixing ring to control verdicts in Greek courts avoided jail, receiving only suspended sentences of 5-13 years for active and passive bribery and money-laundering, 14 years after the case was brought.
A court gave former lawyer and ex-New Democracy lawmaker Petros Mantouvalos and former appeals court judge Yiannis Efstathiou a 13-year suspended term despite the severity of the crime of rigging the courts.
It also handed a 12-year suspended term to Yiakovos Yosakis, a senior Abbot. The other two suspects received smaller sentences, said Kathimerini. Mantouvalos, a former deputy for Piraeus, was expelled from New Democracy in October 2005 after being implicated.
During their investigation, prosecutors implicated dozens of judges, lawyers, notaries, accountants and businessmen, who allegedly asked for bribes to secure a favorable judicial ruling or confiscated illegally various properties of high value.
The case was opened in 2010 after a Greek businessman, Yiannis Boletsis, told judicial authorities he was asked by Yiosakis, a mediator in the ring, to pay a bribe to influence judges in his favor.
It can take a decade or longer for cases to be held in Greek courts and this was one of the longest-running.
In February, 2010, Boletsis, upon being found guilty of money laundering, submitted evidence to the court he said proved that the justice hearing the case, Giorgos Efstathiou, was corrupt.
Boletsis burst into anger at the verdict, yelling at the judge: “You scumbag blackmailer, I will put you in jail. Are you really the one that is trying to break the trial-fixing ring?” said Kathimerini.
Boletsis submitted a CD that he said contained a recording of Efstathiou speaking with Archimandrite Iakovos Yiossakis, an alleged middleman in the trial-fixing ring, about an illicit payment of 60,000 euros ($68,080,) but Efstathiou denied ever holding such a conversation with Yiossakis.