ΑΤΗΕΝS — The accusations made by former SYRIZA justice minister Stavros Kontonis create "a major political issue," government spokesperson Aristotelia Peloni said on Wednesday, after Kontonis concluded his testimony to a judge investigating his claims.
Peloni called on main opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance leader Alexis Tsipras to adopt a position on the substance of the former minister's assertions.
"The former justice minister of SYRIZA has officially reported a deceitful fast-tracking of changes to the penal code in 2019 to convert bribery from a criminal offence to a misdemeanour in order to benefit specific interests," Peloni said. In fact, she pointed out, "Kontonis went even further and reported that the then government pushed back the holding of elections by a week later than originally announced so that a parliamentary session might be held and the new penal code could be passed."
The fact that SYRIZA rushed to issue an announcement without adopting a position on the substance of the accusations created serious questions, Peloni added, stressing that "Tsipras cannot continue to be silent".
Kontonis on Wednesday testified to a judge ordered to investigate the former minister's claims that ratification of the conversion of the offence of bribery from a criminal offence to a misdemeanour had been deliberately rushed through.
Sources said the former minister cited a specific case where the change had been beneficial for those involved and other events that he became aware of while at the helm of the justice ministry that were linked to the penal outcome of the particular case.