With a former prime minister and several ex-ministers from his party under scrutinn in a forthcoming parliamentary probe of the Novartis case, main opposition New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis lashed out at Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his Syriza party, charging that they set up a conspiracy to put their political opponents on trial.
Mitsotakis said that there is indeed a global Novartis scandal and that it extended to Greece with a corrupt system [a huge network of thousands of doctors] which overprescribed certain drugs [manufactured by Novartis that were sold at exorbitantly high prices] that burdened citizens, but that while in the opposition Syriza fought every effort to rationalise the system.
“New Democracy’s position is clear and non-negotiable. We must seek damages from the company and create security valves that will prevent any repetition of such situation,” he told his parliamentary group.
Mitsotakis spoke of a “wretched plot” concocted by the government to harm its political opponents and protect its own people. “That is the objective of the [government] proposal to create a parliamentary committee that will conduct a preliminary criminal probe [of possible unlawful acts by ministers]. We shall support the proposal, so that no one can doubt our desire for everything to come to light,” he said.
Gnawing questions for the government
Mitsotakis cited a litany of actions and statements by government ministers and officials that he said offered strong indications that they were illegally informed in advance of the details of the judicial investigation:
– “How did [Alternate Justice Minister Dimitris] Papangelopoulos know the content of the sealed file before it was received by parliament, so that he could declare that this is the biggest scandal since the establishment of the Greek state? The separation of powers under this government has been abolished. Ms. [Vasiliki] Thanou [former Supreme Court Chief Justice and current head of the PM’s legal bureau] said the same thing.
– Why did the Corruption Prosecutor not send the file to parliament poste haste, as she is obliged to do [by law] after the first protected witnesses testified [about a minister’s involvement] and instead waited three months?
– How is it possible for the Alternate Health Minister [Pavlos Polakis] to know the [professional capacity of the] protected witnesses? [He said they are former Novartis employees who were caught red-handed and talked]
– How does one explain the fact that a specific newspaper, which is a tool of government propaganda, announced a year in advance that a former prime minister is implicated in the case?
– How can it be that 10 individuals [politicians] are implicated, when the FBI investigation did not cite even one?
– How does one explain the covering up of former health minister Panagiotis Kouroumplis in the case?
– What business did Mr. [government spokesnman Dimitris] Tzanakopoulos have visiting the Supreme Court Prosecutor’s office?
– How is it that Mr. Tsipras prophesied the conclusions of the judicial investigation one year ago?”
“The Novartis scandal is not being handled by the independent judiciary, as the government snatched the case from its hands in order to transform it into a tool for the political annihilation of its opponents,” Mitsotakis charged.
He declared that the testimony against 10 former ministers and PMs is manufactured and unsubstantiated, and he demanded that the protected witnesses be cross-examined in parliament, with their identities concealed, by the politicians against whom they unleashed their allegations.