Athens, December 19, 2014/ Independent Balkan News Agency
By Lefteris Yallouros
Pavlos Haikalis, a member of parliament with the right-wing Independent Greeks (ANEL) party, claimed a middle man attempted to bribe him in order to vote in favor of Stavros Dimas in the presidential vote.
In the first round of voting in parliament Haikalis voted against Dimas who has the backing of the coalition government.
Independent Greeks leader Panos Kammenos and Pavlos Haikalis held a press conference Friday afternoon during which they revealed details of the attempted bribery without revealing the name of the middle man.
Parliament’s ethics committee convened Friday afternoon to discuss the claims after a video of the attempted bribery supposed to be showing Haikalis in conversation with the middle man was distributed to political party leaders for their perusal following the approval of a prosecutor.
As the revelations rocked the political world, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras ordered the video be sent to a prosecutor as it is illegal. The PM’s office said the revelations were slanderous and that Samaras will be filing a lawsuit against Haikalis for alleging the premier may have been linked with the incident.
The country’s political parties and members of parliament appear torn between taking the allegations seriously and discarding them as ludicrous, as shown by statements made Friday.
Main opposition party leader Alexis Tsipras said the claims were “serious” and that we “will have to wait and see what justice will say”. A SYRIZA statement said the country and the political system are being dragged through the mud and that the serious allegations must be examined thoroughly.
Left-wing DIMAR stated “justice must shed light [on the issue] immediately” while the Communist Party said the presidential election is turning into a political background game of manipulation, bargaining and haggling which is completely repulsive and foreign to the people.
Socialist PASOK said all political parties should do the utmost to protect democratic normality and transparency so that the country’s political life is not poisoned by such events.
Ruling New Democracy said through its Secretary, Andreas Papamimikos, that the whole issue is a staged provocation on behalf of SYRIZA and the Independent Greeks. Papamimikos linked the revelations made to the presidential election and said it was all part of a SYRIZA and ANEL plan to terrorize parliamentarians.
Papamimikos did not name the alleged mediator but said that he had testified with Kammenos in a trial last year related to the purchase of credit default swaps (CDS) and had traveled with a delegation of leftist SYRIZA officials to Cyprus, also last year. The ND cadre was apparently referring to Giorgos Apostolopoulos who was a key witness against Andrikos Papandreou, the brother of former Socialist Prime Minister George Papandreou, who last year sued Kammenos after the latter accused him of involvement with a firm that profited from the purchase of CDS insuring against a Greek bankruptcy.
The ruling party said in an announcement that the alleged middle man (whose name quickly became known through the press) is a former advisor to Kammenos and has also taken party in meetings with SYRIZA delegations in the past in which Alexis Tsipras took part, amongst others.