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Politics

Tsipras Denies SYRIZA Corrupt, Says New Democracy Uses “Mafia Tactics”

ATHENS — Surrounded by growing allegations his former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA was corrupt, former premier Alexis Tsipras defended two ex-ministers as a report by Greece’s National Intelligence Service (EYP) suggested high-ranking officials in his government leaked details of a police corruption probe to protect a lawmaker and businessman.

His former alternate justice minister, Dimitris Papangelopoulos, is being probed by a parliamentary committee trying to determine if he interfered in a case in which SYRIZA said 10 rival politicians took bribes from the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis.

Seven have been cleared and not a shred of evidence has been produced beyond the word of three alleged whistleblowers who said they overheard talk that SYRIZA rivals wanted bribes, Tsipras calling it the “biggest scandal since creation of the modern Greek state.”

Tsipras accused the ruling New Democracy, which bounced him in July 7, 2019 snap elections, of “using Mafia tactics,” but didn’t explain what that meant as he continued to back Papangelopoulos and former Minister of State Nikos Pappas, his closest aide.

An unlawfully recorded audio said to reveal that Papangelopoulos wanted a bribe from Greek-Israeli businessman Sabby Mionis has been sent to a prosecutor, Vangelis Ioannidis, for review.

It allegedly implicates Papangelopoulos and Ioannidis, will decide whether there is enough evidence to investigate Pappas for perjury before the parliamentary committee investigating allegations of interference in the unraveled Novartis case.

Pappas’ testimony to the committee was at odds with what the audio reveals but he said it was heavily edited and said he did nothing wrong although in the recording, submitted by businessman Sabby Mionis, Pappas appears to admit to knowing that Papangelopoulos had his “own agenda” and was “making a lot of money” from backroom deals, or “outsourcing.”

The EYP report, said Kathimerini, refers to a briefing in April 2016 of Tsipras and  Parliament speaker Nikos Voutsis and conversations between the late businessman Dimitris Malamas and an lawmaker from the right-wing Independent Greeks (ANEL) which served SYRIZA as a coalition partner.

Those conversations related to how the ANEL MP, who wasn’t named, could help secure contracts for Malamas to supply migrant reception centers and run the cafe in the Parliament building.

According to the report, the MP called Malamas after the meeting to tell him that their activity had been exposed, after which the subjects probed stopped using their cellphones, the paper said.

Malamas, who was gunned down in Haidari in 2019, is believed to have had strong links to the police and to have provided protection to hundreds of casinos and brothels.

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