Macedonia Regional Governor Panagiotis Psomiadis will be temporarily removed from his post following a Court of Appeals decision to uphold a suspended 12-month prison sentence imposed on him in Feb. 2009. A first instance court had found Psomiadis guilty of breach of duty.

The outspoken Psomiadis, who was elected with main opposition New Democracy (ND) party, was brought to justice accused of reducing a fine imposed on a Thessaloniki gas station owner repeatedly caught to sell adulterated fuel.

In early 2005, while serving as Thessaloniki prefect, Psomiadis reduced an 89,000-euro fine imposed by the preceding prefectural authority to 5,000 euros.

In his testimony before the Thessaloniki Court of Appeals, which ruled on the case last Thursday, Psomiadis maintained that he had “broken no law”, adding that there was no fraudulence on his part, considering that he did not know the gas station owner personally.

He also underlined that he moved within the law when he decided to reduce the fine adding that he acted in a humane manner taking under consideration the financial and health problems the gas station owner was facing at the time.

Decentralized Administration of Macedonia-Thrace general secretary Thimios Sokos told ANA-MPA that as soon as the Court of Appeals ruling is forwards the ruling, he will proceed with the temporary suspension of Psomiadis, a decision that will have to be ratified by the ministry of the interior.

Psomiadis is expected to bring his case to the Supreme Court.

Commenting on the ruling, Psomiadis stressed: “I have never hidden my signature, never accepted bribes, never did favors and never hesitated to defend my beliefs. I reduced the penalty for violations that concerned 1,300 liters of adulterated fuel”.

Finally, government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis, commenting on views expressed by ND, characterising the ruling on Psomiadis as a "coup", stressed that ND is distanced from reality “unless it believes that laws in our country can be applied only partially and on instances approved by it.”

Samaras meeting with Psomiadis

Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras on Friday morning will meet with Central Macedonia Governor Panagiotis Psomiadis.

The meeting will take place at the airport of Thessaloniki before Samaras departs for his tour of Xanthi, Rodopi and Evros in the northeast province of Thrace.

The two men had telephone communication twice in recent days following the court ruling against Psomiadis. ND expresses support to Psomiadis while at the same time refusing to comment on court decisions.