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Greek Prosecutors Feud Intensifies Over Lagging Novartis Probe

Αssociated Press

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 – Greece's former anti-corruption prosecutor Eleni Raikou wants her successor, Eleni Touloupaki, barred from continuing to investigate an alleged scandal involving the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis the government is trying to tie to rivals.

Raikou filed a petition to exclude Touloupaki, as well as another two assistant prosecutors overseeing a years-old investigation in alleged kickbacks and price-fixing by the Greek subsidiary of  Novartis.

The former head of the Greek division was acquitted in the case as were two doctors but the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said 10 rival politicians, former ministers and Bank of Greece Governor are guilty of taking money from Novartis without any proof being offered and as the investigation is stalling.

The probe is based on the testimony of three secret whistleblowers whose identity is being kept secret although some of the accused are suing to have the names revealed and accused Tsipras of conducting a political witch hunt in a bid to regain favor after reneging on anti-austerity vows.

Raikou had filed a lawsuit again Touloupaki and the other two prosecutors, charging they leaked the name of her husband, an Athens area physician as and he received payoffs from Novartis.

A council of appellate justice must now rule on the exclusion petition as well as whether the three can  continue handing the Novartis indictment.

Touloupaki had pressed the case but didn't present any compelling evidence and even a government-controlled committee in Parliament said it couldn't take on a probe, deferring it to the prosecutor's office.

The three anonymous witnesses said they overheard, were told or believed that Novartis' former chief in Greece, Costas Frouzis, was bribing ministers and prime ministers but he was cleared and never called to testify against the accused.

Raikou's husband, Dr. Lazaros Kornesis has also sued the prosecutors. A military physician, he denied taking a bribe and said that he only participated in a group medical study in 2009 that was commissioned by the company, receiving 1,000 euros for his role, complete with an invoice and citation in the study.