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Bench warrants against “protected witnesses,” Gov’t eager to have their anonymity lifted

For a second consecutive day, the members of the Special Parliamentary Committee in charge to conduct preliminary examination on the Novartis bribery scandal were waiting for one of the protected witnesses to testify in Police Headquarters in Athens. They waited in vain. Protected witness under the code name “Ekaterini Kelesi” did not appear before the committee, just like the first witness “Maximos Sarafis” the day before.

Following the fierce attack against the two by members of the Greek government demanding that the anonymity of protected witnesses must be lifted, no wonder that “Sarafis” and “Kelesi” stayed away.

“Sarafis” has let know that he might appear before the committee under certain conditions.

“Kelesi” had said in a letter that she had no contribution to the committee’s investigation as she already had given her testimony to a prosecutor.

A bench warrant was issued on Tuesday for “Sarafis” but authorities could not find him anywhere. Another warrant was issued against “Kelesi” on Wednesday.

Both bench warrants that should order the witnesses to appear before the committee could not be executed.

Issuing a bench warrant is legal, however, the law does not stipulate penal repercussion for the protected witnesses

At least three of the representative of five political  parties in the committee left open the possibility of asking the preliminary committee to lift the protection status of the “protected witnesses.”

To remove the protection of protected witnesses, the Committee must submit a request to the appropriate prosecuting authorities, according to the Supreme Court prosecutors, state news agency amna reported.

According to the same sources, the witnesses, “Maximus Sarafis” and “Ekaterini Kelesi”, have dual status. The status of a witness in the public interest and the status of a protected witness. These attributes were given by the competent prosecuting authorities. Consequently, the committee should apply to the competent prosecuting authorities for the removal of the two statuses. The country’s Supreme Court Arios Pagos will decided about it.

According to ethnos, early Wednesday afternoon, a meeting between the Supreme Court’s Public Prosecutor and the Anti-Corruption watchdog  took place. The two have to respond to a petition submitted by seven SYRIZA MPs.

The petition asks authorities to not execute the bench warrants against the protected witnesses calling them “illegal and abusive.”

According to media reports, only three police officers know the identity of the protected witnesses.

This part of the Novartis bribery scandal investigation refers to the accusations against political persons, among them one acting MP. The government is eager to lift their anonymity and then to try to prove that they said what they said folloing instructions by SYRIZA in general and former PM Alexis Tsipras in particular.

The government wants to prove that involving political persons into the Novartis scandal is a “plot” against SYRIZA’s political enemies.

PS Lifting anonymity of protected witnesses? That’s a joke, and a very undemocratic one.


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