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The “mother of all battles” in Greek Parliament as lawmakers will vote on Novartis inquiry

The mother of all political battles started at 9 o’ clock Wednesday morning in the plenary of the Greek Parliament. Lawmakers will have to vote and decide whether there is sufficient evidence to conduct preliminary inquiry and prosecute two former prime ministers and eights ex ministers allegedly involved in the Novartis case. The ten politicians may face charges for bribery and money laundering.

The politicians are:

–  Dimitris Avramopoulos, Minister of Health 2006-2009
– Andreas Loverdos, Minister of Health, 2010 – 2012
– Andreas Lykorentzos, Minister of Health 2012 – 2013
– Marios Salmas, Deputy Minister of Health 2012 – 2013
– Adonis Georgiadis, Minister of Health 2013 – 2014
– Ioannis Stournaras, Finance Minister 2012 – 2014
– Evangelos Venizelos, Finance Minister 2011-2012 and Deputy Prime Minister 2013 – 2015
– Georgios Koutroumanis, Minister of Labor and Social Security 2011 – 2012
– Antonis Samaras, Prime Minister, 20-06-2012 to 26-01-2015
– Panayiotis Pikrammenos, Prime Minister, 15-05-2012 to 26-06-2012

The conference of presidents has ruled that ten ballot boxes will be set up, each one for each name of politician included in the case file prepared by the corruption prosecutor and sent to the Parliament. On the ballot boxes the names will be replaced by numbers.

Party representatives including those whose names are being involved in the case and the prime minister are expected to take the floor.  A total of 51 people will take part in the debate that is expected to be heated. Main opposition party, conservative New Democracy, claims that the case is a plot set up by the government and mainly Syriza in order to “exterminate its political opponents.” Keywords in ND’s strategy are “set up conspiracy aiming to slander the dignity of politicians”, “false witnesses” and “witnesses wearing hoods.”

The procedure is expected to conclude at 10 p.m. Wednesday

If the Parliament votes in favor of preliminary inquiry, a parliamentary investigation committee will be established. From the 21 committee members 10 will be from SYRIZA, 5 from New Democracy and one from every other political party in the Parliament.

The committee will have one month to prepare its report.

Ex Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and three former ministers (Venizelos, Avramopoulos, Georgiadis) have filed lawsuits against the “protected witnesses,” Samaras also against PM Alexis Tsipras.

EU Migrations Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos sent a letter to the Palriament saying he will not be able to attend the Plenary. In an interview to private Skai TV on Tuesday, he said “the bastards who created this conspiracy will pay in court.”

The Novartis case is estimated to have cost to the Greek state 3 billion euros in overpricing of medicine and bribes for the time 2010-2015. It is considered to be the tip of the pharma briberies iceberg in Greece.

It is the first time in the parliamentary history of modern Greece that ten former top politicians are facing charges. With the exception of caretaker prime minister Panagiotis Pikrammenos, the rest of the politicians are from New Democracy (Samaras, Avramopoulos, Lykourentzos, Salmas, Georgiadis) and PASOK (Venizelos, Stournaras, Koutromanis, Loverdos).

More on Novartis – Greece here.

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