Samaras, Venizelos blast implication of politicians Novartis scandal as plot
Former prime minister Antonis Samaras and his erstwhile junior coalition partner, Evangelos Venizelos – like other politicians implicated in the Novartis affair – denounced the manner in which the judicial probe and the government’s stance towards it have been handled.
The case against politicians is expected to be handled by a parliamentary committee which will conduct a preliminary criminal probe, as parliament’s permission is required to put former ministers on trial.
The depositions in the case began in November, 2017, and continued through February, and rumours of politicians being implicated have raged for months.
The three protected witnesses testified that the former VP of Novartis had bribed many politicians, beginning with former health minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, currently the EU’s migration commissioner, who allegedly bought huge numbers of vaccines that were not needed.
The money is in the bag
The kickbacks were allegedly arranged both through offshore companies and cash deliveries in suitcases. The protected witnesses reportedly testified that the minimum payoff to ministers was 200,000 euros.
Information leaked from the case file suggests that journalists who owned consulting companies were also take from Novartis.
Samaras sues the PM, alternate justice minister
Samaras will file lawsuits tomorrow against Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Alternate Justice Minister Dimitris Papangelopoulos, a former EYP intelligence service director, claiming slander and judicial meddling.
“This is the most vicious and ridiculous plot ever. I will file suit against the politically teetering Tsipras and the former EYP chief under New Democracy Papangelopoulos, as well as against their accomplices, both inside and outside the judiciary. I know that my presence annoys them. Now they will understand that I will fight them to the end,” Samaras declared.
Venizelos sees conspiracy, no evidence
For his part, Venizelos stressed the paucity of evidence against politicians and that all the allegations of wrongdoing come from three anonymous, protected witnesses.
“The essential elements of this file are only three depositions from anonymous, indeterminate, protected witnesses, protected from public scrutiny with their faces revealed, so that one might rebut the slanderous cesspool that they have unleashed against the entire political establishment of the country of the last decades,” Venizelos, a constitutional law professor and Pasok MP, said.
Venizelos compared the Novartis affair to “dirty 1989”, when he defended then PM Andreas Papandreou against corruption and charges of large kickbacks, which were allegedly delivered to him in cash in Pampers diaper boxes.
“To put it simply, because I stood beside Andreas Papandreou during his experience in 1989, this affair is the repetition of history as farce. We are looking at a Pampers-type story, only this time the diapers have been wetted,” he said.