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Scandals on the Island of Corfu

16 February 2013 / 13:02:36  GRReporter
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Reports on politicians, police officers and lawyers' relations with criminals. Revelations of senior police personnel who cooperate with money-lenders and are involved in a war of mutual annihilation in security services. These are just some of the examples of the battle behind the scenes that smells of corruption and which has been waged for months on the island of Corfu. Enemy actions on this Ionian island seem to be ultimately focused on Minister of Public Order Nikos Dendias, who is originally from Corfu, as well as on other local current and former deputies. In a report on the climate that has been dominating the island lately, an officer from the region talked about instances of outrageous envy, stubbornness and madness. It is no coincidence that, in recent months, Corfu has been visited by officers of the Internal Investigation Unit of the Greek police in Athens who needed to clean the "Augean stables".

This multi-front war on the island started a few months ago, when some information leaked about the involvement of politicians and members of New Democracy and PASOK with senior managers of the police and private individuals. According to the charges, a senior police officer, a close relative of the wife of a PASOK politician, together with two officers from the security services of Corfu, tried to "hit" another police officer who had good relations with former PASOK MP and now independent deputy Angela Gerekou. Former members of New Democracy from Corfu, who were at loggerheads with Dendias, also seem to be involved in this war.

In November 2011, an Albanian was arrested on the island for illegal trade of electrical appliances with uncovered cheques. At the time it was also discovered that the warehouse in which stolen goods were stored belonged to a police officer. In turn, he said that he was unaware of this activity of the Albanian, and that he himself was not involved in any illegal activities. The case made it clear that, following his arrest, the Albanian had engaged in 36 phone calls with a businessman who was a brother of a deputy of PASOK and who had visited him in jail afterwards. Senior police officers asked why charges had not been brought against the deputy's brother. Investigators of the case, however, said that these were just friends and the businessman was not involved in illegal activities.

The police on the island have been recently accused of politically motivated servicing of politicians, mainly Angela Gerekou, and documents have been also collected. She, in turn, has expressed her anger regarding such allegations and insisted that the Ministry of Public Order should investigate the source of these slanders. The second phase of the war began two weeks ago, following the neutralisation of a gang of money-lenders and criminals acting on the island of Corfu, in which 63 people were involved, 24 of whom have already been arrested. The group, whose leader is of Roma origin, has been working for years and its revenues amount to more than 2 billion euro. The estimated value of the luxury villa of the leader, which is in the tourist part of the island, is 2 million euro. The investigation evolved over the last four days and included complaints from victims of the money-lenders who claim that the group was related to a senior police officer on the island. A former member of New Democracy was also among these. He stated that the particular police officer had advised him, three years ago, to settle the money transaction with the head of the money-lenders. Three other witnesses claimed that the money-lenders always emphasised their relations with senior police officers from the island in front of their victims.

A new investigation of the Internal Investigation Unit of such contacts was subsequently launched. The officer himself was very angry that the investigation had begun without anybody having asked him anything. Reportedly, he pointed out to investigators that he had just given a friendly piece of advice to the former MP, but had had no relationships with the money-lender. Furthermore, he argued that the police officers who investigated the case had invaded the police station of Corfu and asked the four detainees of the money-lender group to give incriminating evidence against him. According to the same sources, the arrested money-lenders had accused police officers of exerting pressure on them because they wanted to incriminate the senior police officer. His assistant told To Vima that everything was related to political objectives, as well as to the crisis in the police. Furthermore, according to him, the former member of New Democracy, who brought the charges, is currently supporting a political opponent of Nikos Dendias, who, in turn, was in good relations with the accused police officer, and the investigators were dissatisfied with their official position. The presentation of the accused police officer's assistant claims that, after the charges against him did not lead to the desired result, the other police officers were blinded by envy and hatred, and only waited for a chance to send him to prison. His belief, however, was not shared by the other officers from the island, who claimed that all the data in the case of the money-lenders had been collected appropriately and had had no mercenary motives. According to them, current and former senior officers were involved in illegal interests and this fact should be cleared.

The massive investigation of the Internal Investigation Unit was sent to the Prosecutor's Office, which is expected to file charges.

Tags: Corfu corruption MPs police money-lenders Nikos Dendias
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