Greek Prosecutor in Flawed Novartis Case Has Tenure Extended

FILE - Greece’s lawmakers voted and approved a probe into an alleged scandal in which prosecutors allege that 10 politicians took bribes from the pharmaceutical company Novartis. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Yorgos Kontarinis)

ATHENS – Despite being unable to find any evidence linking 10 rival politicians of the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA government to accusations they took bribes from the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis, anti-corruption prosecutor Eleni Touloupaki’s term was extended for another two years.

Eight members of the Supreme Court’s Supreme Judicial Council voted in favor of the renewal of her term with three against, media reports said, with six backing a two-year term and two preferring only one.

Among those backing her were Supreme Court chief Vassilis Peppas and the court’s chief prosecutor Xeni Dimitriou. Her supporters noted her work into the alleged bribery scandal that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said was “the biggest scandal since the establishment of the Greek State,” before it collapsed with nine politicians cleared.

The government, in free fall with elections coming this year, tried to tie its opponents to claims they helped Novartis fix prices although it was based on hearsay testimony from secret whistleblowers and a company investigation found it didn’t happen.

Despite Touloupaki backing away from her own case, her supporters on the court said she should stay to keep investigating a case largely shelved, said the business newspaper Naftemporiki, and with some of the targets suing to clear their names.

Touloupaki answered questions for some two hours, the paper said, including over the deposition of the whistleblowers, who reportedly told her they heard the politicians took bribes but didn’t specify from whom and couldn’t remember incidents or dates but months later provided more details not revealed so far.

The lengthy chase file fingered former prime ministers, finance ministers and health ministers who held office before 2015 but not any members of the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA, including one who held a ministerial position before becoming a minister for the current government..

Only an official request for the lifting of immunity against former health minister Andreas Loverdos was sent to Parliament so he can testify before prosecutors due to “indications” of wrongdoing without any proof. He said his implication was a “vile plot” hatched by “a gang of criminals,” in the government.

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