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Politics

More Charges Urged for Former SYRIZA Minister in Novartis Case

ATHENS – A group of 30 lawmakers from the ruling New Democracy want former  alternate justice minister Dimitris Papangelopoulos, from the Radical Left SYRIZA, to be indicted for allegedly interfering with an investigation into the largely-debunked case of the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis accused by the Leftists of paying bribes to rivals.

The Conservative lawmakers submitted a proposal to the Parliament their party controls, going after the SYRIZA minister after his party went after them when the Leftists were in power before losing to the rivals in July 7, 2019 snap elections.

“We have drawn up today and we are submitting to the Greek Parliament a proposal to expand the number of offenses which Mr. Papangelopoulos allegedly committed with the participation of third parties during the exercise of his duties,” said Stavros Kalafatis, the secretary of New Democracy’s parliamentary group in an announcement.

A parliamentary committee is conducting a preliminary inquiry into the handling of the Novartis bribery case by the former SYRIZA administration.

In September, 2019, former corruption prosecutor Eleni Raikou claimed that he meddled in the case which also saw former premier and SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras saying all his rivals cited were guilty despite not a shred of evidence yet being produced.

She presented evidence, said Kathimerini, indicating that Papangelopoulos had used his influence, “in the manner of a pimp,” to intervene in her work on a number of cases, including the Novartis probe that has unraveled, with nine accused already cleared.

Raikou quit in 2017 with sources who weren't identified telling the paper that she claimed to have been squeezed by SYRIZA and its then-coalition partner the Independent Greeks (ANEL) over the case that former Premier Alexis Tsipras called the biggest scandal since the creation of the modern Greek state.

That was based partially on the claims of four whistleblowers, three of whom still remain secret, who reportedly said they had overheard that the people named by SYRIZA and Tsipras, including two former Premiers and Bank of Greece Gov. Yannis Stournaras took money, but not a shred of evidence has been presented yet.

Raikou testified before a Supreme Court deputy prosecutor investigating judicial officials’ handling of the allegations which the accused said was a fake scandal concocted to get them and return Tsipras to power, which failed when he was ousted in July 7 snap elections.

“Exploiting his political power, in the manner of a pimp, he would dictate how certain important cases needed to be handled, demanding in some cases that criminal charges be brought at once,” Raikou reportedly told Supreme Court deputy prosecutor Lambros Sofoulakis of Pangelopoulos.

The former minister  denied everything and said there’s no proof he did anything wrong, claiming, “This is an unprecedented attempt at a vengeful political persecution. The absence of any proof in the case file against me and against (former PM) Alexis Tsipras make this sordidness ridiculous.”

Papangelopoulos said the government is trying to “hide the truth” and “distract the Greek public in order to conceal the serious responsibilities not just in the Novartis scandal, but also in its investigation,” but still didn’t offer any evidence of any wrongdoing.

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