A bomb-decision by the Court of Appeal sin Athens: The trial for SIEMENS’ sinister scheme “cash for contracts” is indefinitely postponed until the indictment and all relevant documents, a total of more than 4,500 pages, are translated into German. And French.
The three judges of the Court of Appeals for felonies accepted the complaint submitted by 16 German defendants. The decision was inevitable as the not translation of the legal documents would undermine the fairness and the legality of the process.
It is worth-noting that the prosecutor had proposed the rejection of the complaint.
The case against SIEMENS went to court in November 2016, court after a 10-year investigation of claims that the SIEMENS Greek subsidiary bribed Greek politicians and state officials in order to secure public contracts.
According to the indictment, SIEMENS has allegedly paid bribes of estimated €70 million to secure a contract and digitize the network of then Greek Public Telecommunications System OTE. The contract “Convention 8002” was signed in 1997.
64 suspects, Greeks in the majority, but also 13 German nationals, ex executives of the mother company and of OTE, and one French banker. The most prominent among them:
- Michalis Christoforakos, a Greek with German passport who fled to Germany that does not extradite him to Greece to stand trial.
- Theodoros Tsoukatos, a former PASOK politician and close aide to ex PM Kostas Simitis. He had admitted to have received 1,000,000 DM from Siemens and had claimed that he had handed over the money to the party.
The only Greek politician to have been convicted in connection with the scandal is ex-Transport Minister Tasos Mantelis, who was given a three-year suspended prison sentence in 2011 after being found to have accepted payments of 450,000 Deutsche Marks (230,000 euros) from Siemens between 1998 and 2000. Mantelis had claimed that the money was ‘donation’ for his election campaign.
The SIEMENS trial was interrupted in November 2015 for the same reason as today: the indictment was not translated into the native language of several defendants.
The investigation results were concluded in spring 2014.
Now the judges decision is a slap in the face of those who did not proceed with the translation. According to state broadcaster ERT, the state translation service at the Greek Foreign Ministry is responsible for the translation. However, I read somewhere on internet that the Justice Ministry has to pay some €10,000 for the translation and that probably the delay has to do with this money issue as ‘resources are not available.’
UPDATE: Tuesday afternoon, the Translation Service of the Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that of a total of 1,580 pages to be translated, “the first 700 were delivered translated on 2. November 2015 and the rest of 880 pages on 1, May 2016.” The Ministry of Foreign Affairs calls on “judicial authorities to identify and attribute responsibility to those who maliciously and deliberately spread false and unsubstantiated information.”
Citing sources form the Prime Minister’s office, Greek media report that the Prime Ministry was angered about the trial postponement that risks to have the crimes been written-off due to time limitations.
More on SIEMENS bribes scandal, suspects and trial here.