Ten Years Later, Greece’s Siemens Scandal Trial Postponed Again


FILE- Former Minister Tasos Mantelis. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Vaios Hasialis)

ATHENS - A decade after investigations began into a cash-for-contracts scandal between German engineering giant Siemens and Greek officials charged with taking bribes, the trial was delayed again because the defendants didn’t appear.

It’s common in Greece for those charged with even serious crimes not to show up, setting back trials for years with almost no attempt to make them attend the scheduled sessions.

The case first went to court in the summer of 2016 as prosecutors said Siemens paid off local policitians and officials to get contracts, another frequent occurrence in corruption-ridden Greece.

But that was immediately set back when, in response to appeals by French- and German-speaking defendants, the court postponed the proceedings to allow for the translation of the charge sheet, which runs to more than 4,500 pages, and important documents relating to the case which had not been translated into German and French.

The case has been delayed because the government said it couldn’t afford the cost of translating the charges into French and German for some of the defendants.

The impasseled the government to suspect a “judicial ring” linked to major opposition party New Democracy is behind the delays, the newspaper Proto Thema said at the time. The first case concerns an investigation into the digitalization by Greece’s phone company OTE of its call centers while the second involves charges of bribery by Siemens of Greek politicians, including former Minister Tasos Mantelis.

The suspects include former Siemens and OTE executives, who are accused of money laundering, offering and accepting bribes and acting as accomplices.