In­quiry to be launched

Par­lia­ment to probe bribery claims in­volv­ing No­var­tis phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal giant

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

The gov­ern­ment has pro­posed that a par­lia­men­tary in­quiry be set up to in­ves­ti­gate al­le­ga­tions that two ex-prime min­is­ters and eight former min­is­ters ac­cepted bribes from Swiss phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal giant No­var­tis, with the likely out­come be­ing that the case will be re­ferred back to the jus­tice sys­tem.

Dur­ing a meet­ing of SYRIZA’s par­lia­men­tary group yes­ter­day, Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras an­nounced the coali­tion’s in­ten­tion to ask for a pre­lim­i­nary ju­di­cial in­quiry into the claims made by three pro­tected wit­nesses. He said it was the only “in­sti­tu­tional path” avail­able to the gov­ern­ment. “The case file has to be ex­am­ined and it has to be es­tab­lished whether there are sat­is­fac­tory signs that of­fenses have been com­mit­ted,” he said. In a speech that seemed aimed at the vot­ers who helped SYRIZA win the 2015 elec­tions, Tsipras sug­gested that un­cov­er­ing the truth was one of the rea­sons that Greeks voted for the left­ist party three years ago. He went as far as sug­gest­ing that the pur­chase of over­priced medicines by pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ments had cost 23 bil­lion eu­ros and played a key part in forc­ing Greece to re­quire a bailout in 2010. “If that 23 bil­lion eu­ros had re­mained in the pub­lic cof­fers, maybe we would have avoided the ad­ven­ture we have been on since 2010,” he said.

Tsipras also in­sisted that his gov­ern­ment would seek dam­ages from No­var­tis, which has vowed to in­ves­ti­gate the graft claims.

New Democ­racy leader Kyr­i­akos Mit­so­takis hit back by ac­cus­ing the gov­ern­ment of try­ing to ma­nip­u­late the ju­di­cial sys­tem over the No­var­tis claims and made ref­er­ence to “hooded in­for­mants” dark­en­ing the name of op­po­si­tion politi­cians, in­clud­ing former pre­miers. “The rule of law is un­der at­tack from the un­der­hand tac­tics of Mr Tsipras’s gov­ern­ment,” he said. “Cit­i­zens de­mand trans­parency.” The par­lia­men­tary in­quiry re­quested by the gov­ern­ment is to ex­am­ine whether there were cases of giv­ing or ac­cept­ing bribes and if any money laun­der­ing took place. The view among MPs is that the par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee will com­plete its work swiftly and re­fer the mat­ter back to the jus­tice sys­tem, which will have to de­cide whether fur­ther ac­tions should be taken against any of the ac­cused.

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