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The court insists on continuing the case against Akis Tsochatzopoulous without interrupting it in August

29 July 2013 / 15:07:45  GRReporter
2322 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova

"The court is biased, negative, and even hostile. All our proposals have been rejected. You have been avoiding the important issues, addressing the insignificant ones, thus wasting the time for the actual consideration of the nature of this trial," the former Minister of Defence of Greece argued when he was summoned by the judicial council to present his pleading in the case in which he is a defendant.

The Court of Appeal in Athens holds Akis Tsochatzopoulous and 18 more persons liable for criminal offences on the indictment for the legalization of proceeds from illegal activities, in particular for complicity in the "laundering" of bribes which he had received in connection with contracts for weapons supplies.

Three months after the start of the trial against him, he is no longer handcuffed when entering the courtroom and he is trying to demonstrate the same confidence as in the years when he was one of the most powerful political figures in PASOK. However, the face and the weary voice of the former Minister are more than clearly showing the traces of his long stay in custody in the prison in Korydallos.

His present wife Vasiliki (Vicky) Stamati, his ex-wife Gourdoun Tsochatzopoulous, his daughter Areti Tsochatzopoulous, his cousin Nikos Zigras, his accountant Efrosina Lambropoulou and various businessmen are also defendants in the case

"The issue is not a contract for a weapons supply but the national security. Therefore, this trial is political. We have persistently asked you several times to call as witnesses the other members of the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence but you continue to ignore our request," added Akis Tsochatzopoulous.

Then he asked the court to work out a "compromise" and to suspend its sessions until 26 August.

"The time I have available to prepare my pleading is not enough. I would like to ask you to accept my proposal in order for the trial to be fair," he said in his address to the judges and prosecutors.

The defenders of the former Minister supported his request, stating that some of the persons who were members of the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence in the period when the supplies had been approved wanted to testify but cannot do so because the court is not summoning them.

"The decision of the council is the "black box" of the case. Of course, the Minister of Defence plays a leading role in the process of decision-making, but the Ministers of Finance, Foreign Affairs and Development are important factors too," said one of the defenders of the former Minister.

The lawyers of the other defendants supported the request of the main accused but, after a brief consultation, the judicial council announced that it rejected it, refuting all their arguments about the illegitimacy of such a decision.

According to one of the prosecutors, meeting the deadlines of ordinary cases in similar trials, whose development is of particular relevance to society, is impossible. In support of his words, he referred to the law on "fast-track procedures," which the parliament had passed in 2011.

"I am sorry to say this, but the provisions in this law describe a specific case and it is not possible for it to cancel the Greek Constitution and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms."

After a break that lasted an hour, Akis Tsochatzopoulous’ defenders made one more unsuccessful attempt to suspend the trial. Then followed the pleading of businessman Asterios Ikonomidis whose company had renovated the house on Dionisiou Areopagitou Street under the Acropolis. The luxury property was seized in early March this year following the decision of the Court of Appeal since the former Minister had been convicted of filing a false declaration of assets.

The court has decided to proceed with the hearing of the pleadings of the other defendants who have expressed their readiness to do so by Friday when the court will decide whether to suspend its sessions until 26 August or not.


Tags: Crime newsTrialCourt of AppealAkis TsochatzopoulousBribesWeapons programmes
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