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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 16-03-29

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Parliament to investigate 'shady' loans given to parties and media, Tsipras says
  • [02] Arrivals of unaccompanied refugee children rising, Greek coast guard staff report
  • [03] Greek choreograpger Dimitris Papaioannou and team nominated for six Emmys
  • [04] European Parliament delegation to visit Athens on March 30-31
  • [05] Draft bill on cybercrime opened for public consultation until April 1

  • [01] Parliament to investigate 'shady' loans given to parties and media, Tsipras says

    Launching an off-the-agenda debate on justice issues in Parliament on Tuesday, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras challenged main opposition New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis to distance himself from the "dark recent history of his party" and also announced that SYRIZA will propose a Parliamentary investigation into suspect loan agreements between banks, political parties and the media. He also raised questions concerning the allegations of intervention levelled against Alternate Justice Minister Dimitris Papangelopoulos.

    The prime minister accused ND, on the pretext of a so-called revelation about a supposed government intervention in justice, of acting in close concert with some of the well-known "media of corruption" in order to create a hubbub and false impressions.

    "This is not naivete but effrontery and arrogance...You did not even think that in this way, you would be opening Pandora's box yourselves," he said.

    Tsipras specifically highlighted the "notorious Papangelopoulos intervention" - relating the minister had attempted to influence a prosecutor's handling of an investigation into the businessman Andreas Vgenopoulos. He noted that a disciplinary inquiry was already underway concerning the handling of the specific case, which involved major financial interests, and the actions or omissions that had resulted in three separate cases files being shelved.

    According to the prime minister, three questions naturally sprung to mind in connection with this affair and the minister's involvement.

    Firstly, whether the meeting for which Papangelopoulos stood accused had been requested by the minister or the public prosecutor. Secondly, why the specific case was in the hands of Appeals Prosecutor Georgia Tsatani at all and why it had been removed from the prosecutors for corruption. Lastly, why had the Supreme Court deputy prosecutor issued a document on April 22 stating that all corruption cases were the exclusive province of the corruption prosecutors, then on December 18 in the same year, the same person issued a second document saying that the Vgenopoulos cases had been rightfully removed from the corruption prosecutors.

    "I ask you: is there not a very obvious legal contradiction here?" Tsipras said, noting that members of the opposition had also talked publicly of a cover-up in the specific case.

    He went on to announce that SYRIZA's Parliamentary group will table a proposal for a Parliamentary examining committee to carry out an in-depth investigation of loan agreements between banks, political parties and the media, whose final conclusions will be issued no later than the end of May.

    Tsipras stressed that the issue of shady loans given to political parties could not end "overnight" because the previous ND-PASOK coalition government had slipped through an amendment pardoning and giving immunity to those responsible.

    The prime minister went on to give a shopping list of 13 major instances of what he alleged were interventions in justice by previous governments, including what he called a direct intervention in the self-administration of courts by a justice minister in the government of former Greek premier Antonis Samaras, shortly before the January 2015 elections, to favour his cronies. There has always been intervention in justice, Tsipras claimed, but the "plot was entirely lost" during the three-year Samaras-Venizelos coalition government.

    Omissions were also sometimes a form of intervention, he added, with the most flagrant being the failure to hand over the Lagarde list evidence to the appropriate authorities, while he also spoke of a cover-up in the Siemens' kickbacks case and slammed the out-of-court settlement with the company as "unacceptable". He announced that the government will set up a committee of experts and political staff to renegotiate this settlement, calling on the opposition to participate.

    Tsipras also repeated that the next constitutional revision "must put a final end to the shame that is the law on ministerial responsibility. Ministers must be treated as any other citizen."

    Referring to the recent case involving former Samaras aide Stavros Papastavrou, the lawyer who paid a 3.3-million-euro fine to avoid criminal charges for undeclared deposits of 5.4 million dollars in Switzerland, Tsipras this was a resounding example of the decadence of the old political system. He asked main opposition ND leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis to explain why he was "covering for" the former premier and Papastavros and why he did not distance himself from the "dark recent past of his party," and also called on him to explain the revelations of possible ND links with a ring of corrupt journalists.

    [02] Arrivals of unaccompanied refugee children rising, Greek coast guard staff report

    The number of unaccompanied refugee children arriving in Greece from the shores of Turkey spiked in the first quarter of 2016, according to figures presented on Tuesday by the head of the Hellenic Coast Guard's personnel union federation (POEPLS) Thanos Tsatsoulis in a press conference.

    Tsatsoulis said that 537 unaccompanied minors up to the age of 13 had arrived on the island of Lesvos alone in the first three months of the year, compared to a total of 750 in 500,000 people arriving on the island throughout 2015.

    Coast guard officers at the press conference described harrowing scenes during their rescues of refugees and migrants and said that some of the children that spoke English said they had come alone because their parents did not have enough money. They majority, they added, communicated with their families via Facebook and had been instructed to post their whereabouts as soon as they arrived at any kind of institution in Greece or Europe, so that their parents or relatives could come and find them.

    Talking about rescues in the Aegean, officers said that panic was the cause of many shipwrecks as refugees - crammed as many as 50 to a boat designed for six - moved about and caused the dinghies to capsize. Many of the people on board did not know whether they were in the sea or a river, they said, while many infants had no lifejackets and even when these existed, they were of poor quality.

    A Super-Puma helicopter operator noted that the most difficult rescues were those of babies and small children. In one hair-raising incident he recounted, the occupants of the boat had insisted that the rescuers first lift a travel bag into the helicopter which, once opened, proved to have an 11-day-old baby inside.

    Tsatsoulis and the other coast guard officers said those serving in the Aegean rescue missions were under immense psychological strain as a result of all they have witnessed over the past year, with many on the verge of psychological collapse, and asked that the state provide care but also some form of material compensation for their very important work.

    [03] Greek choreograpger Dimitris Papaioannou and team nominated for six Emmys

    Renowned Greek choreographer and performer Dimitris Papaioannou and his talented team have been nominated for six Emmys for the opening ceremony they created for the 2015 European Games in Baku.

    The ceremony, titled "Origins", has been nominated in the categories of artistic direction, direction, costumes, music and lighting.

    Papaioannou and his team will travel to Los Angeles to attend the 43rd Daytime Emmy Awards on May 1. The choreographer is also personally nominated for two awards in the categories "Outstanding Directing Special Class" and "Outstanding Art Direction / Set Decoration / Scenic Design".

    [04] European Parliament delegation to visit Athens on March 30-31

    A 12-member European Parliament delegation is to visit Athens for two days on Wednesday and Thursday, led by the Chair of the EP's Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee (ECON) Roberto Gualtieri.

    The visit is taking place in the framework of the European Parliament's decision to monitor the implementation of the Greek programme. It is expected to include meetings with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, government ministers, the leader of the main opposition New Democracy party Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Bank of Greece governor Yannis Stournaras, MPs and representatives of business associations and social groups.

    [05] Draft bill on cybercrime opened for public consultation until April 1

    A draft bill by the Justice ministry on cybercrime which ratifies a convention approved by the Council of Europe and criminalizes racist and xenophobic actions committed through the internet has been published online on Tuesday for public consultation.

    The bill refers to crimes such as child pornography, racism, genocide, crimes against humanity, intellectual property, etc and its additions will allow the Greek government to adopt the necessary criminal legislation. It also adopts a European Parliament directive on cyber-attacks against information systems.


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