ATHENS – Charged with upholding law and order, some police in Greece are breaking it in numbers so great that the department was involved in 43.9 percent of corruption cases recorded in the country in 2019.
That was according to the annual report of the Internal Affairs Department of the security forces (YEFSA), a mechanism set up last year to tackle crime and corruption within law enforcement as well as the wider public sector, said Kathimerini.
After police, the most cases reported came from civil servants (27.6 percent) in a sector known for bribery to pass papers along, and then the Coast Guard at 11.6 percent, the body that patrols the seas and looks for refugees and migrants.
Complaints against police included passive bribery, causing bodily harm, threats and defamation. For civil servants, cases involved bribery, false certification and breach of duty of their office.
One of the most important corruption cases included in the report concerned the so-called “tug cartel” operating in the port of Thessaloniki. Eighteen people were arrested, including shipowners, Coast Guard officers and navigators, whose crimes included extortion, fraud and bribery.
Long one of the European Union’s most corrupt countries and a place where hands seemed out for bribes everywhere, Greece’s standing with Transparency International (TI) rose slightly, the country going from 67th to 60th, it was reported in January.
That came in 2019, when there were two governments in place, the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA and New Democracy which ousted the Leftists in July 7, 2019 snap elections and complained the outgoing administration passed laws lenient on corruption.
The survey covered 180 countries with TI saying Greece had made some strides although in its waning days the SYRIZA government passed laws going lenient on corruption, embezzlement and bribery.
That led to anti-corruption groups complaining that it opened the door for wrongdoers to get away with crimes, including those measured by TI which looks at levels of public sector corruption, determined by expert assessments and opinion surveys.
A National Transparency Authority was put in place after New Democracy took power with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis blaming SYRIZA for "a shameful performance for a European state but also the wretched legacy of a government that constantly spoke about the moral advantage.”