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Greek website exposes identity of “protected witness” in Novartis bribery case

Discredit the corruption prosecutors having investigated in the Novartis bribery case, question the credibility of the the protected witnesses, demand that their identity is revealed. This has been the strategy of those whose names have been involved in the case file of the Novartis as wells as a large part of Greek media outlets and websites. And now the nightmare for at least one of the whistle blowers has started. A news website exposed on Friday evening the name and the profession of one of the witnesses and also posted a picture of the person.

The website wrote that the witnesses’ data incl the photo were in the report sent by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to the Greek authorities. The FBI report was translated into Greek by the Legal Dept of the US Embassy in Athens, the website added. The witness was a very close aide of the former deputy chairman of Novartis Hellas who was still in the company during the time period authorities investigate for the bribes.

The lawyer of three witnesses who testified to the FBI commented on the revelations that “it is just a suspicion as to who is the witness of the three who are protected by the Greek Justice.” He told ANt1 TV that after consulting with his clients this was his last interview to the media.

Three witnesses have reportedly testified to the Greek authorities and three other witnesses to the FBI.

On social media, some Greeks started to attack journalists for the whistle-blower’s ID. Fact is that the name and the picture were shown by at least one private television networks’ prime time news and the ‘scoop’ has been reproduced by several websites and on social media.

The Greek witnesses protection system does not offer full protection as in the US.

It is the prosecution that decides to impose the “protection status” when witnesses express fear for their lives.

KTG has so far understood that offenders cannot be charged if protected witnesses have not been identified in the court room. However, protected witnesses’ testimonies can be used for further investigation.

At least three politicians whose names has been involved the case have demanded the lifting of the the witnesses’ identities calling them “hoodies” and threatened them with lawsuits.

Earlier on Friday, the prosecutors involved issued a statement on Friday against news reports questioning the witness protection program. Chief corruption prosecutor and the two assistant prosecutors also defended themselves against allegations that there alleged talks between government officials and prosecutors, saying they have followed the law. 

“We have adhered to the letter of the law,” the head of the corruption prosecutor’s office Eleni Touloupaki and prosecutors Christos Ntzouras and Stelios Manolis, who are handling the case, said in a joint statement.

According to athensnewsagency,the prosecutors said in the statement:

“We never participated in a joint meeting with the government spokesman or any other government official on the Novartis case. The witnesses were placed into the protection status, adhering strictly to the letter of the law. The part of the case file that involves politicians was submitted to the Supreme Court prosecutor’s office, as we are obliged to do by the Constitution.”

They added that the Greek investigation into Novartis is taking place in parallel and not jointly with that of other states. 

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