No Greek politician has suffered such a public castigation, taunting and humiliation before like the former Transportation Minister Michalis Liapis, 62, who was caught driving a luxury jeep with counterfeit license plates. As if the public humiliation was not enough, his party, conservative Nea Dimokratia, expelled him on Thursday by order of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.
In an emergency meeting on Wednesday evening, the ethics committee of ND found that the former politician had violated the party statute and expelled him from the members list of the party he was member for 24 years and it was founded by Liapis’ uncle Konstantinos Karamanlis. This development comes a few hours after Prime Minister Samaras had announced the end of tolerance to privileges of acting and retired politicians if they found guilty of offenses “that are deemed particularly insulting toward society”.
Michalis Liapis was to stand trial on Thursday morning on charges of false certification and forgery. But the offender defied for one more time the laws and did not appear in the court. His lawyer requested postponement saying his client was on a trip abroad. Among others Liapis will have to submit to court, the insurance policy of the car and the duplicates from paying road tax for the luxury jeep from 2003 onwards. The trial will take place on December 30th 2013.
If convicted, the former conservative minister faces a suspended jail sentence of between six months to five years.
Financial crime units (SDOE) sources told zougla.gr, the fines of would pay could be between 8,000-16,000 euro.
On Tuesday morning, Michalis Liapis was controlled by traffic police in Artemida, eastern Attica, after having violated a Stop-sign. The control revealed that the license plates of his VW-Tuareg jeep were forged. He was also driving without a license and could not produce a valid insurance for his vehicle.
To policemen, Liapis claimed he had taken the car for a ride in order to charge the car battery. However Greek media revealed, that by a fee of maximum 5 euro, any vehicle owner who has given up the license plates, has the right to move around his vehicle 4 to 5 times per year. For the battery issue and emergency cases…
hiding the handcuffs…
“I made a mistake and I must pay the consequences,” Liapis said after his arrest, adding however that he only took the car out to charge the batteries ahead of a trip to Asia.
He had also told police that he gave in the car’s original license plates in August as he planned not to use the vehicle due to the extra taxation he would face.
But some media claim that he has allegedly been using the fake license plates since two years, since November 2011.
“I am a pensioner, the crisis has also affected me,” he told reporters who have bombarding him upon his arrest. “I’m not saying I’m poor,” he added.
According to the ex-minister’s most recent source of wealth (“pothen esches”) form, he had an income of 109,223 euros and owned 20 properties and eight plots of land in expensive suburbs of Athens as well as in Mykonos and Evritania. He also had around 45,000 euros in bank deposits and 3 cars.
Had he be conform with the law, Liapis would pay annual for his car:
1,320 euro road tax per year
900 euro insurance
2,254 euro luxury life tax (as of 2013) (protothema)
The scandal caused by the conservative former Transportation and Culture minister has literally inspired the Greek internet with ironic and taunting comments, with the Twitter #hashtag free_Liapis to have been trending since he was arrested and photo-shoppers being heavy at work.
There has been no more ridiculous minister in Greece, I believe.
I don’t need to stress in an extra sentence that Liapis’ case has made it to international media with similar ironic comments, while every incoming phone call in my home starts with “What a ma**kas! hahaha”, “what a ridiculous joker… hahaha”, “what an insult… hahaha…”
PS Considering that Liapis was born in a respected politicians family, he enjoyed good education and was raised in a materially secure environment, all I can say is that he gave the phrase “talk of the town” a new version: “clown of the town”.