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Submarine case file sparks political row

Parliament received the case file concerning “possible penal responsibilities of ministers /members of government, during the period from 17 November 2010, onward.” on the submarine case.

Parliament received the case file concerning “possible penal responsibilities of ministers /members of government and specifically Evangelos Venizelos, former defense minister, and Giorgos Papakonstantinou, former finance minister, during the period from 17 November 2010, onward.”

The case was formulated after SYRIZA deputy Zoe Kostantopoulou submitted the transcripts of the debate in the parliamentary plenum that took place on 18 December 2013 on the establishment of a committee of inquiry for the submarine and Skaramangas shipyard case, which was turned down.

However, from the inquiries of corruption prosecutors Popi Papandreou and Antonis Eleftherianos, “evidence emerged that could possibly show penal responsibilities of ministers/cabinet members” and therefore, as law dictates, the case was brought to parliament, while preliminary inquiries about other involved persons are ongoing.

The deputy appeals prosecutor Eleni Raikou was informed and the case file was sent to the prosecutor of the supreme court and the justice minster on 30 April 2014, but was not officially registered until 5 May.

Following these actions, the justice minister sent it to parliament on 30 May, and it reached the special secretariat of the parliament president on 4 June, the very day that the end of session and closure of parliament was announced. This sparked off debate among opposition deputies that linked this development with a constitutional clause concerning the statute of limitations on ministerial culpability (article 86 foresees that parliament may effect proceedings against members of government only until the second regular parliamentary session that began after the misdeed occurred).

Persons close to parliament president Evangelos Meimarakis note that the case file reached his office late in the afternoon, after the official decree for closing parliament was posted.

PASOK retorted with an announcement stressing that the case was outvoted in parliament, and that on 10 April, when the government tendered the submarine regulatory act to accept the submarines that were ready of acceptance, SYRIZA voted “present” and, according to PASOK, basically accepted the act that essentially accepts the solution of law 3885/2010. PASOK also notes that SYRIZA tendered the documents to justice knowing fully well that the only thing prosecutors could do was to bring it back to parliament, and in fact without commentary.

However, prosecutors did just that, but went a step further by adding the suggestion of possible wrongdoing by the two ministers. However, an announcement from Ms Kostantopoulou stresses that the case file was mishandled, and successively “buried” in various filing cabinets on purpose so as to eat away at the time until the statute of limitations ran out.

Meanwhile PASOK parliamentary group secretary, Panayotis Rigas called the action of the judicial authorities to conduct an inquiry “legally unacceptable” and causing a “political issue”. Mr Rigas noted that the prosecutors will be called to answer on why they added the comment concerning “possible penal responsibilities” of the two ministers. The issue also drew comments from New Democracy, essentially along the same lines, with party spokesperson Sophia Voultepsi noting that Ms Kostantopoulou, essentially, named parliamentary minutes a case file.

The tangible aspects of the issue is that there was a regulation of a festering problem that saw the Hellenic Navy not receiving submarines already paid for, but from some reading of the adjustments to the contract, the manufacturers were let of the hook for a number of misdeeds, as well as manufacturing and design problems.