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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-10-14

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Papandreou seeks Parliamentary probe into scandals
  • [02] Union announce Oct. 21 strike; port privatisation decision pending
  • [03] Latest Vatopedi development causes judicial, political reverberations
  • [04] Greek stocks end 2.21% up
  • [05] Fallout from Vatopedi case
  • [06] Rouvas again at Eurovision

  • [01] Papandreou seeks Parliamentary probe into scandals

    The government should consent to Parliamentary probes and hearings on all issues of graft and scandal that have emerged in recent years, main opposition PASOK's president George Papandreou asserted on Tuesday. He made the statement in response to the latest developments surrounding the Vatopedi Monastery land exchange probe, after two prosecutors in charge of the investigation attempted to resign both from the case and their office.

    "The government is sinking under the weight of its actions while continuing efforts to cover up its responsibility. It has an obligation as Parliamentary majority to accept our proposals for the creation of committees of formal inquiry and investigation into every case of graft and scandal in recent years," he said.

    He also urged the government to make this its final act, "so that the country might go to elections of redemption," and not to elections resulting in a cover up.

    According to Papandreou, the country was in dire need of a responsible and reliable leadership that could lead it out of the biggest political crisis in recent years.

    "This is the demand of the people that we will respond to," he added.

    PASOK's leader then accused the government of "engineering the biggest coup in the justice system since the year's of the junta," in which its constant attempts to control and manipulate justice undermined all sense of democracy or the rule of law.

    He said his party honoured the two prosecutors that "refused the unacceptable intervention of the government agents, who sought to conceal unacceptable, untransparent, illegal actions".

    In addition, Papandreou accused members of the government of coordinated actions "seeking to loot the property of the Greek people".

    "If the government operated on the lines of the most basic democratic principles, the political leadership of all the ministries involved would have resigned long ago," PASOK's leader stressed.

    The government had been forced into a "disorderly retreat" by the resignation of the two prosecutors, he added, but was continuing to attempt hypocritical tactical manoeuvres and had not even withdrawn the "dictatorial" intervention that had led the prosecutors to resign.

    The two prosecutors, Ilias Kolioussis and Eleni Sotiropoulou, submitted their resignations on Tuesday after Appeals Court chief prosecutor Kyriakos Karoutsos instructed them to continue a probe into the monastery's land deals, even though they had earlier recommended that the case file be sent to Parliament after turning up evidence of possible involvement by ministers in the case. Later the same day, Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis announced that the resignations had not been accepted.

    [02] Union announce Oct. 21 strike; port privatisation decision pending

    Trade union leaders met in Athens Tuesday to coordinate action for an upcoming 24-hour strike announced for Oct. 21 by the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), Greece's largest umbrella trade union group, and the civil servants' union ADEDY. The two trade union federations decided to call an industrial action in order to express their opposition to the 2009 state budget and to protest against high inflation, as they said. Meanwhile, a union representing port workers and stevedores will hold a four-hour work stoppage on Wednesday evening and a subsequent rally outside the Piraeus Port Authority building, where a board of directors meeting inside will, by all accounts, convene to award management of the Piraeus-area Neo Ikonio commercial port to the Chinese multinational Cosco.' Cosco was the highest bidder in a relevant international tender to private the port.

    [03] Latest Vatopedi development causes judicial, political reverberations

    A decision by two prosecutors assigned the politically charged Vatopedi Monastery land exchange probe to tender their resignations on Tuesday - and a subsequent announcement that the resignations will not be accepted - generated another round of political accusations and counter-accusations.

    In response to the news that prosecutors Ilias Kolioussis and Eleni Sotiropoulou had resigned, Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis said their resignations would not be accepted.

    "Government decisions attest to its determination to protect the public interest," the justice minister stressed, pointing out that "since the Vatopedi affair came to light, it has been the government's clear intention to have an in-depth investigation into the case."

    "We are interested in the truth and nothing but the truth," Hatzigakis stressed, adding that "the resignations of the two prosecutors will not be accepted, and we call on them to re-consider and continue to perform their duties independently."

    In a related development, Supreme Court Prosecutor George Sanidas announced that he agreed with the decisions taken by Appeals Court chief prosecutor Kyriakos Karoutsos, and that the entire Vatopedi case file will be sent to Parliament once the probe was completed and any evidence pointing to liability by ministers had been found.

    He said Karoutsos had been correct when he instructed the two prosecutors in charge of the case - Kolioussis and Sotiropoulou - to continue their preliminary investigation.

    In their letters of resignation, the two prosecutors are reported to have said that the investigation turned up evidence pointing to the involvement of deputy ministers, and that the case should to be sent to Parliament for evaluation.

    On his part, Karoutsos said he had been verbally briefed by the two prosecutors of this conclusion.

    Furthermore, according to Sanidas, the signing of an administrative order by a minister signifies political responsibility but is not necessarily tantamount to criminal liability, which requires specific evidence to be supported.

    "Criminal liability does not arise automatically," he stressed.

    He said Karoutsos had instructed prosecutors to seek the opening of bank accounts belonging to all suspects involved in the case, including employees of the Hellenic Public Real Estate Co. and its board members.

    Political reactions

    On his part, a government spokesman on Tuesday dismissed any claims of "pressure" being exerted on the independent justice system, "(ruling) New Democracy, both as government and when it was the main opposition, respected and respects the judiciary's independence, whereas (main opposition) PASOK, depending on whether it believes [judicial conclusions] are in its interests or not, tries to belittle it."

    Spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos also accused PASOK of attempting to influence the justice system, in reference to demands by high-ranking PASOK MP Theodoros Pangalos that three ministers -- including Roussopoulos -- be summoned to a Parliament committee of inquiry.

    Meanwhile, a PASOK spokesman referred to direct involvement by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis vis-à-vis Tuesday's development, adding that the premier is judged by his actions.

    Spokesman George Papanconstantinou also charged that the Vatopedi affair does not only involve relevant ministers, but also the justice minister and the premier. Another PASOK cadre, MP Dinos Roblias, demanded that the prosecutors' resignation letters be made public.

    Asked about the Vatopedi affair, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga said her party "has no illusions over what is called the 'justice system'. What is just is unjust because it is adapted to a policy that is unfair to the people ... in economic and political scandals there are judges that can tolerate interventions and others that cannot."

    Finally, a Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) deputy, Fotis Kouvelis, said the resignation of the two prosecutors creates a major political problem, "and the government's responsibility is huge".

    [04] Greek stocks end 2.21% up

    Greek stocks ended 2.21 percent higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, continuing on a recovery after European governments unveiled urgent measures to support the banking system on Monday. The composite index ended at 2,561.80 points, off the day's highs, with turnover rising to 278.9 million euros.

    Most sectors moved higher with the Industrial Products (5.89 pct), Chemicals (4.07 pct) and Banks (3.72 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Food/Beverage (3.28 pct), Insurance (1.98 pct) and Healthcare (1.77 pct) suffered losses.

    The FTSE 20 index rose 2.69 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 1.92 pct up and the FTSE 80 index rose 3.32 pct. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 206 to 45 with another 35 issues unchanged.

    [05] Fallout from Vatopedi case

    A decision by two prosecutors assigned the politically charged Vatopedi Monastery land exchange probe to tender their resignations on Tuesday - and a subsequent announcement that the resignations will not be accepted - generated another round of political accusations and counter-accusations.

    In response to the news that prosecutors Ilias Kolioussis and Eleni Sotiropoulou had resigned, Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis said their resignations would not be accepted.

    "Government decisions attest to its determination to protect the public interest," the justice minister stressed, pointing out that "since the Vatopedi affair came to light, it has been the government's clear intention to have an in-depth investigation into the case."

    "We are interested in the truth and nothing but the truth," Hatzigakis stressed, adding that "the resignations of the two prosecutors will not be accepted, and we call on them to re-consider and continue to perform their duties independently."

    In a related development, Supreme Court Prosecutor George Sanidas announced that he agreed with the decisions taken by Appeals Court chief prosecutor Kyriakos Karoutsos, and that the entire Vatopedi case file will be sent to Parliament once the probe was completed and any evidence pointing to liability by ministers had been found.

    He said Karoutsos had been correct when he instructed the two prosecutors in charge of the case - Kolioussis and Sotiropoulou - to continue their preliminary investigation.

    In their letters of resignation, the two prosecutors are reported to have said that the investigation turned up evidence pointing to the involvement of deputy ministers, and that the case should to be sent to Parliament for evaluation.

    On his part, Karoutsos said he had been verbally briefed by the two prosecutors of this conclusion.

    Furthermore, according to Sanidas, the signing of an administrative order by a minister signifies political responsibility but is not necessarily tantamount to criminal liability, which requires specific evidence to be supported.

    "Criminal liability does not arise automatically," he stressed.

    He said Karoutsos had instructed prosecutors to seek the opening of bank accounts belonging to all suspects involved in the case, including employees of the Hellenic Public Real Estate Co. and its board members.

    Political reactions

    On his part, a government spokesman on Tuesday dismissed any claims of "pressure" being exerted on the independent justice system, "(ruling) New Democracy, both as government and when it was the main opposition, respected and respects the judiciary's independence, whereas (main opposition) PASOK, depending on whether it believes [judicial conclusions] are in its interests or not, tries to belittle it."

    Spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos also accused PASOK of attempting to influence the justice system, in reference to demands by high-ranking PASOK MP Theodoros Pangalos that three ministers -- including Roussopoulos -- be summoned to a Parliament committee of inquiry.

    Meanwhile, a PASOK spokesman referred to direct involvement by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis vis-à-vis Tuesday's development, adding that the premier is judged by his actions.

    Spokesman George Papanconstantinou also charged that the Vatopedi affair does not only involve relevant ministers, but also the justice minister and the premier. Another PASOK cadre, MP Dinos Roblias, demanded that the prosecutors' resignation letters be made public.

    Asked about the Vatopedi affair, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga said her party "has no illusions over what is called the 'justice system'. What is just is unjust because it is adapted to a policy that is unfair to the people ... in economic and political scandals there are judges that can tolerate interventions and others that cannot."

    Finally, a Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) deputy, Fotis Kouvelis, said the resignation of the two prosecutors creates a major political problem, "and the government's responsibility is huge".

    [06] Rouvas again at Eurovision

    The Greek entry for the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow this May, led by Greek pop performer Sakis Rouvas in his second attempt at the coveted title, was presented by the organisers at Greek state broadcaster ERT on Tuesday.

    Rouvas said he looked forward to the work ahead and stressed that his past experience would be his greatest asset in this effort.

    According to ERT executive Johnny Kalimeris, the Greek entry was fully prepared and all the participants were "the best in their field".

    Network officials also announced that the date for the competition to choose the song to be performed by Rouvas had not yet been decided.

    Caption: An undated picture of Greek pop-singer Sakis Rouvas in concert. ANA-MPA / EPA


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