Following a secret ballot by the Greek Parliament, a court trial is being launched against the former PASOK’s Minister of Defence Akis Tsochatzopoulos. The vast majority voted for the ex minister to be brought to court with two criminal charges and indicted before the Judicial Council. The parliament adopted the decision of the Special Parliamentary Commission that has conducted research on the German submarines.
Of the 242 ballots, 236 were valid, 6 –invalid, and 4 –empty. 216 members of parliament voted “for” charging Tsochatzopoulos with “passive bribery”, 9 were “against” and 7 remained neutral. For “legalization of illegal activity proceeds” 215 voted “for”, 9 “against” and 8 were neutral.
The Judicial Council will consist of five members, which are to be appointed by a lot at the National Assembly.
The Supreme Judicial Council will decide whether the charges pressed against the former defence minister are adequate, whether they will be separately tried, and if he is going to be indicted in front of a specialized or general court.
Tsochatzopoulos: “Charges against me are immoral”
“Conspiracy and immoral act” – this is how the ex PASOK’s minister of defence qualified the criminal charges and appealed to Gorgeous Papandreou, the current prime minister, and ministers Teodoros Pangalos, Vasso Papandreou, Evangelos Venizelos, Dimitris Repas, Michalis Hrioshoidis, Kostas Skandalidis and Gianis Magriotis to talk about the consensus reached when deciding the German submarines order.
“I will not let a few random shreds of paper turn me to a convenient scapegoat,” he insisted, calling the conclusion of the Special submarines issue Committee, which suggests Tsochatzopoulos’s legal responsibility, “a monument of truth forgery.”
Tsochatzopoulos announced that he is going to seek his rights at the European Court of Human Rights in order to reveal the political plotting around him. As for PASOK, he said: “I do not associate myself with a party that has inflicted so much suffering upon the people of Greece anymore.”
"My presence here does not mean legalizing purge and humiliating institutions. I am here to expose an artificial conclusion and the convenient and false virtual reality, which you were presented with", said Tzohadzopulos calling the charge of bribery "a huge lie" and "unlawful inference". He rejected the accusation of receiving illegal property by "Ferostal" as compensation for facilitating the company, stressing that "facilitation is not possible without the influence of members of the Executive Council of Foreign Affairs and Defence and the Supreme Naval Board" and that "no proof exists that I have ever taken a bribe."
“Throughout the entire course of action there hasn’t been a single actual proof or even indication that I have connections of any sort with any company”, said the former minister, calling connecting wire transfers of “Torkaso” with “Ferostal”’s illegal payments “random and shooting in the dark.” Tzohadzopulos rejected the charge for the legalization of the proceeds of illegal activity, which were, as he mentioned, attributed without proof and without waiting for a conclusion on part of the financial crimes combat bodies.
Concluding, the former defence minister stressed: “Today, the so-called PASOK, politically mutilated, isolated, and democratically and organizationally “boned”, is facing a situation similar to the proverb “few houses - poor village” and have resorted to sole leadership. Therefore, they believe to calm public discontent by putting the blame on me. But they will be disappointed, as I am innocent.”
The opposition votes “yes” to taking Tzohadzopulos to court
During today’s parliamentary debate opposing parties agree upon court trial against former minister Akis Tzohadzopulos, placing some restrictions on the indictment.
LAOS said they were not on board for Parliamentary prosecution, recommending general court indictment. Thanassis Plevris said his party will not participate in the meeting any further, adhering to its original decision to withdraw from the work of the Commission.
New Democracy’s rapporteur Miltiadis Varvitsiotis stressed the need "of honestly fulfilling the society’s appeal to cleanse the political system and cope with outstanding issues of individual political figures that are still on the queue."
He added: “The Parliament’s unanimous decision of indictment I am hoping for is to prove that the political system in this country is not dead and removing the political façade may be effective. And as a first step, we need a vote “for” in order to continue the investigation.”
Communist Party of Greece’s representative, Antonis Skilakos, stressed that investigating Akis Tzohadzopulos’s disloyalty is being avoided, ascribing the blame "due to apparent reanons" to the two major parties (PASOK and New Democracy), since “the big problem is what successive ministers have done after that,concerning both the implementation of contracts and the issuance of compensation.”
SIRIZA’s Theodoros Dritzas agreed with other speakers from the opposition that “the proposal and conclusion is flawed, mainly because of the way government majority is used, with the complicity of New Democracy.”
Theodoros Dritsas found that in the conclusion “collective guilt was not verified, violating prosecutor's warrant.”
Independent MP and member of Dora Bakoyannis’ Democratic Unionon, Christos Markoyanakis said that “I will vote for indiction with one reason only, since I understand how voting against will be interpreted by malicious figures. I justify myself, fearing accusations of populism.”