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Society

Tsipras, SYRIZA Could Face Probe Over Alleged Novartis Scandal

September 17, 2019

ATHENS – Former premier Alexis Tsipras and his Radical Left SYRIZA party could be investigated for claiming that 10 rival politicians took bribes from the Swiss drug company Novartis as nine have been cleared and not a shred of evidence has been produced from testimony of four whistleblowers, three of whom remain secret.

Greece’s Parliament – with the new ruling New Democracy holding a majority of 158 seats in the 300-member body – is due to get the case file on Sept. 18 and debate whether to set up a special investigative panel to look into whether SYRIZA officials, including former alternate justice minister Dimitris Papangelopoulos, intervened in the inquiry into the alleged bribery of politicians and doctors by Novartis to incriminate political rivals, the business newspaper Naftemporiki said, with Tsipras accused of also knowing about the alleged scheme.

He had called it the biggest scandal in modern Greek history without any proof and as the targets and critics said he concocted a fake scandal to try to reverse his plummeting in polls ahead of July 7 snap elections which he lost to New Democracy.

While only former health minister Andreas Loverdos from the now-defunct PASOK Socialists is being questioned while also claiming a SYRIZA conspiracy to get its rivals, two prosecutors who’ve handled the case were quarreling over their roles and whether it had been tampered with by outside forces.

The country’s top corruption prosecutor Eleni Touloupaki was scheduled Sept. 17 to testify before First Instance Prosecutor Spyros Pappas, said Katherimini, who’s charged with trying to find out what happened and who’s telling the truth, if anyone.

Touloupaki’s former colleague, then Supreme Court deputy prosecutor Ioannis Angelis, tried to undermine the investigation she said, according the paper, adding that she claimed the pair had gone to Vienna with other officials at the end of 2018 as part of their investigation.

Sources who weren’t named told the paper that she said Angelis refused to take delivery of  evidence offered by American investigators and that he said it should be submitted to Eurojust,  an EU agency overseeing judicial cooperation among EU agencies in criminal matters.

Touloupaki also allegedly claims that Angelis subsequently illegally removed two electronic files – one relating to Novartis and another to other judicial cases – and the original documents that American officials sent to Greek colleagues.

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