Former Justice Minister Haralambos Athanasiou (ND) stunned Greeks when he openly admitted on Thursday that “kickbacks are among a minister’s duties.”
The ex New Democracy minister was speaking live to state broadcaster ERT TV when he made this unbelievable statement.
As the topic was the Novartis-Gate, Athanasiou was asked whether kickbacks are part of a minister’s duties or on the occasion of being a minister.
“But [a minister] would not take bribes if he was not a minister. I believe that [it is] in the performance of his duties, because if he would not perform his duties, any minister would not take it.”
Being asked for one more time, whether it is among minister’s duties or on the occasion of his duties,” Athanasiou replied “It is in his duties. That’s what I believe.”
The incredible statement triggered an outrage in the society, Greeks commented on social media that the former ND Minister would be ashamed.
Within minutes after the statement, the Prime Minister’s office issue a press release, asking ND leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis whether his adopts Athanasiou position. “If Mitsotakis agrees he should say it openly or expel Athanasiou” from the party.
Mitsotakis did not bother to reply but ND issued a statement lashing out at ERT TV.
The Prime Minister’s office has turned “the public television into a vulgar broadcaster that distorts ND positions.” the statement said among others calling ERT TV “willing mouthpieces of SYRIZA and provocative producers of fake news.”
Athanasiou told media that he expressed his scientific view that is consistent with the settled laws of our courts that says bribery goes to the duties of the minister. I can not understand why the fuzz.”
He added that ERT TV “isolated my last sentence,” and broadcasted it isolated in the new bulletin thus creating the impression that I said bribery is minister’s duty.” He stressed that “anyone who heard the statement understood what I meant.”
He added that he would be very naive to say such a thing.
PS Athanasiou was speaking on legal terms, the journalists on political ones. But these live interviews can be very tricky, right?