The tensions and angry recriminations during yesterday’s parliamentary debate on whether to probe eight former ministers and two ex-PMs regarding alleged Novartis kickbacks were to be expected.
However, the citizens who were watching were able to form an opinion regarding the weight of the charges against the 10 politicians, who deconstructed step-by-step the allegations against them, in an effort to demonstrate with evidence the plot which they claimed was organised against them.
What was also apparent was the inability of government ministers and ruling party MPs to document with concrete evidence any involvement in the Novartis scandal of those who were accused.
The general references to the real scandal of the increase in state spending on drugs and pharmaceuticals, does not lead to the conclusion, or justify the charge that these politicians engaged in unlawful acts.
The indignation of former caretaker prime minister Panagiotis Pikramenos was characteristic. After 40 years of unblemished service in the judiciary, he found himself forced to defend his honour and integrity, due to an erroneous reference of one protected witness.
Beyond fending off the allegations, of greater importance perhaps is the fact that the debate highlighted a series of judicial actions that violate the rule of law and undermine the effort to get to the bottom of the scandal. A picture emerged of a bleak situation within the judiciary, which undermines its independence and annuls its discrete institutional role.
What also emerged from yesterday’s parliamentary debate was that the formation of a committee to conduct a preliminary criminal probe, not only will not illuminate the substance of and responsibilities for the scandal, but rather will simply continue the futile policy of confrontation and will leave a lingering cloud of suspicion of corruption in public opinion.
At a time when the country is confronted with a host of serious, open issues, from exiting the bailout memorandum to crucial issues of national import, the country’s political life will continue in a climate of polarisation and endless scandal-mongering.
The government bears a huge responsibility for its decision to highlight the Novartis scandal at this particular moment, in order to target and harm some of its political opponents.