ATHENS – Already facing a prosecutor’s probe over a phone call with Bank of Greece Gov. Yannis Stournaras that was secretly recorded and released, Alternate Health Minister Pavlos Polakis is being sued by the union of hospital workers whose members he reportedly called “trash.”
Polakis is a surgeon who hasn’t been practicing since serving the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA and didn’t explain his comments as he had worked with hospital employees in his previous profession.
“Polakis, while speaking to journalists, called me and my colleagues trash,” said Michalis Yiannakou, the President of POEDIN, which has upset with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ government for health care cuts the Premier said he would stop before breaking his word as he did in saying he would reverse austerity measures.
Polakis earlier was ordered by a court to pay 25,000 euros ($29,234) in compensation to Yiannakos who had criticized the government’s health care slashes but there’s been no report the minister paid up.
At that time, he had called Yiannakos “a fool” and accused him of telling “despicable lies,” although the cuts were factual. POEDIN sued then, saying Polakis used “degrading, insulting and wholly inappropriate” language.
Polakis, who has been on a spate of attacks against a range of targets he considers enemies of SYRIZA, has Tsipras’ support even as a probe is underway over the phone call to Stournaras in which he reportedly warned the bank governor to investigate loans to rival politicians after a report Polakis got a 100,000 euro ($113,367) loan as a second mortgage against a house where he already owed 300,000 euros ($340,103).
Addressing his cabinet, Tsipras took an indirect dig at Stournaras by referring to “overrated technocrats… who concern themselves with petty partisan politics.” He called on ministers not to be distracted “by disputes chosen by rivals to muddy the waters,” said Kathimerini.
In February, Polakis was ordered by a Greek court to pay undisclosed financial damages for defaming the character of a late TV journalist he alleged had gotten a job at the country’s disease control center while working for a former health ministry.
Polakis has attacked a number of people but the court said he went too far in besmirching the reputation of Vassilis Beskenis, a well-known journalist and commentator for SKAI TV.
Polakis alleged Beskenis had been being appointed to the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (KEELPNO) following a stint at the health ministry press office during the tenure of Adonis Georgiadis, now New Democracy Vice President.
Judges ruled that the “false allegations” made by Polakis had “damaged [Beskenis’s] honor and reputation.” The journalist passed away following a heart attack in December 2017 at 43.