ATHENS – As he demanded, former Health Minister Andreas Loverdos, the only one of 10 rival politicians of the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA not yet cleared of charges of taking bribes from the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis, will testify in the case.
Loverdos served for the now-defunct PASOK Socialists who morphed into a center-left coalition the Movement for Change when its support vanished for backing austerity measures antithetical to its alleged principles.
He has been summoned by an anti-corruption prosecutor to appear on May 3 as a suspect for questioning although he, as had the other targets, denounced the case as a farcical witch hunt cooked up by SYRIZA and Prime Minister Alexis Tsirpas to distract voters during an election and the Leftists plummeting for reneging vows, then imposing more austerity.
Prosecutor Eleni Touloupaki summoned Loverdos after forwarding the case file through the Supreme Court and the Ministry of Justice to Parliament earlier in April, asking for the lifting of his immunity – which he insisted be done so he could testify openly.
According to case documents, he was called to be questioned over suspicion of bribery although the company said it found no evidence, Parliament agreed and the prosecutor cleared others, including two former Premiers and Bank of Greece Gov. Yannis Stournaras.
The case is based on secret testimony of three whistleblowers, one of whom was identified after being stopped by police while trying to go to Spain and with the others, who said they heard overheard tales of bribery, changing their stories and no evidene found.
Speaking in Parliament, Loverdos said he would “squash this conspiracy,” and attacked the government for bringing the charges without evidence, and the whistleblowers who said they overheard people talking about politicians taking bribes but had no proof.
You are liars, slanderers, you’re common criminals … I will uncover the instigators (of the conspiracy) and those who executed this plot, both the ones wearing hoods (the anonymous witnesses) and those without,” he said.