Parliament’s plenary session on Friday decided, via a secret ballot, that former PASOK minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos should face charges on two offences.
MPs accepted the findings of a preliminary examination committee that investigated the German submarine case, focusing on whether Tsohatzopoulos had received kickbacks in order to back a controversial contract for the purchase of four German submarines for the Hellenic Navy while he was defence minister.
A total of 242 MPs were present for the vote; 36 ballots were valid, six void and four blank votes were cast. Two-hundred and sixteen MPs voted in favour of Tsohatzopoulos being tried for passive bribery; nine voted against and seven voted “present”, while 215 MPs voted in favour of Tsohatzopoulos being tried for money-laundering; nine against and eight voted “present”.
A judicial council comprised of five Supreme Court judges will be chosen by lots to decide whether the offences with which Tsohatzopoulos is charged fall under the statute of limitations, or if they will be tried separately and if he will be brought before a tribunal or a regular court.
In his statements before Parliament, Tsohatzopoulos declared that he is innocent, and referring to his “former comrades”, he said that their efforts to make him a “convenient culprit” will fail.
Referring to the parliamentary examination committee decision that he should be tried in court for criminal offences based on the findings of the submarine case investigation, Tsohatzopoulos said that the committee findings are a “monumental falsification of truth”.
The committee was set up to investigate claims that Tsohatzopoulos received kickbacks in order to back a controversial contract for the purchase of four German submarines for the Greek Navy while he was defence minister.
Tsohatzopoulos also said that he “will resort to the European Court of Human Rights to prove that he is politically persecuted.” He lashed out at the ruling PASOK party maintaining that “this PASOK that has become synonymous with the Greek people’s hardship is not his party anymore.”
In his 20-minute address, Tsohatzopoulos maintained that he is the victim of a “frame-up” and “unethical indictment” and referred to the unanimous decisions by Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) concerning the purchase of the submarines.