ATHENS – Nikos Pappas, who oversaw the licensing of television stations while serving as one of then-Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ closest advisors in a former SYRIZA-led government, was sentenced to two years in jail for the scheme.
A Special Court convicted him and imposed a stronger sentence than the one-year term recommended by a prosecutor. He was also given three years of probation, while a businessman charged as an accomplice, Christos Kalogritsas, was given three years of probation and fined €5,000 ($5,285), said the state-run Athens-Macedonia News Agency (AMNA).
Pappas served as Minister of Digital Policy, Telecommunications, and Media from November 2016 to July 2019 and was perhaps the one closest to Tsipras, serving as a top advisor as well.
Pappas had denied any wrongdoing and refused to seek any extenuating circumstances to lessen punishment. He complained that he was the victim of a “political trial.” The sentence came weeks before elections that will see Tsipras and SYRIZA pitted against New Democracy and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
Government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou said the verdict and sentencing were also a “hard blow” for Tsipras. He added that the former premier should take some of the responsibility for the plan to license TV stations and should take Pappas off the list of those who could be Members of Parliament.
Directing his comments directly at Alexis Tsipras, Giannis Oikonomou asked whether the leftist leader will “assume the political responsibility that is due to him for the deeds and days of his oldest and closest associate.”
Pappas was tried on charges of dereliction of duty before a panel of judges from the Supreme Court and the Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court.
Kalogritsas was involved after he claimed he was encouraged by Pappas to take part in the tender for the licenses, as the SYRIZA-Independent Greeks coalition wanted to endorse a pro-government broadcaster to allegedly influence.
Pappas’ immunity from prosecution was lifted by Parliament after the accusations from Kalogritsas, who said Pappas arranged for him to receive €3 million ($3.17 million) as a downpayment to bid for a license.