EDITORIAL: The farcical comedy of parliament’s criminal probe
On the one hand, the government has spoken of an enormous Novartis scandal, and continues to accuse former ministers through constant leaks to government-friendly media, and on the other hand it refuses to touch upon the substance of the scandal and to probe all its aspects.
The tactics adopted by the governmental majority on the parliamentary preliminary criminal probe of politicians implicated in the Novartis case surpass even farcical comedy.
That confirms in the most characteristic manner the concerns expressed by the opposition. that the government is not interested essentially in probing the scandal, but instead wants to target and hold hostage some of its political opponents.
After five meetings, the majority on the committee decided to summon nine of the accused – Evangelos Venizelos had already addressed the committee of his own accord – to ask if the committee has the right to probe the charges that have been lodged against them.
In other words, first they charge and target them, and then they ask if they are competent to deal with them.
That led the representatives of all opposition parties to walk out of the committee, charging that the process was a “haphazard and cheap plot, not against the individuals charged (by anonymous, protected witnesses), but at the expense of democratic institutions and justice”.
On the one hand, the government has spoken of an enormous scandal, and continues to accuse former ministers through constant leaks to government-friendly media, and on the other hand it refuses to touch upon the substance of the scandal and to probe all its aspects, as the ten accused and the entire opposition justly demand.
With various pretexts and procedures, the government is perpetuating a murky scenario, with witnesses of dubious credibility, with the sole aim of maintaining an atmosphere of scandals, and of allowing the shadow of corruption to hover over important opposition politicians, until the next elections.
It borders on the absurd that the ten PMs who have been accused are demanding that the committee proceed with an exhaustive probe of the scandal, while the government, which is supposedly interested in cleaning up and combating corruption, wants to wrap up the probe because the statute of limitations on the alleged crimes has expired. Hence, the governmental majority supports sending the case file back to the judiciary, which sent the case to parliament on the grounds that it was not competent to deal with it.
It may suit the government to fuel a climate of scandals that mars the image of its political opponents. But it is not in the interest of the country or society.
With so many national issues on the table, and with the process of exiting the bailout memorandum in progress, the division and polarisation that the government is cultivating can only lead to impasses.