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The trial against Akis Tsochatzopoulos begins with legal obstacles

22 April 2013 / 18:04:16  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

Former Minister of Defence Akis Tsochatzopoulos and another 18 people in handcuffs sat in the dock before a three-member panel of the Athens Court of Appeal for criminal offences. The accusations against them are legalizing of income from illegal activities and in particular, involvement in the "laundering" of bribes that the former Minister had received from a German company for the purchase of submarines for the Greek Navy.

The civil plaintiff in the case is the Greek state, represented by authorized lawyers. They made a claim for each defendant to pay one million euro as compensation for the moral damage caused.

The defenders of the accused reacted sharply and urged the panel to reject these claims. They questioned the legitimacy of the state's participation as a party in the case, their main argument being that the basic offence, namely receiving bribes, has long become void by prescription.

The defendants include the former Minister’s current wife - Vicky Stamati, his ex-wife Goudroun Tsochatzopoulou and his daughter Areti Tsochatzopoulou. The latter two did not want to appear in the courtroom, but were legally represented by their lawyer. Areti Tsochatzopoulou is in prison in accordance with the custody imposed on her.

Vicky Stamati, apparently mentally exhausted, was the only one of the defendants, who was brought into the courtroom without handcuffs. Her appearance today was not reminiscent of that in the glamorous photos of the past. She sat next to her husband and lapsed into silence, whereas the other defendants in the case used the opportunity to talk to their lawyers and even to some relatives. After the first break of the session, she did not return to the courtroom because she felt bad.


Photo: thepaper.gr

The testimony of dozens of witnesses will be heard in the course of the case as only the former wife of Akis Tsochatzopoulos and his cousin did not provide such a list. Nikos Zigras told the investigator during the pre-trial investigation that he would provide complete information about the path of the wicked money that was lost in bank accounts and offshore companies in many countries.

For their part, the former Minister’s defenders indicated that he had invited former Prime Ministers Costas Simitis and George Papandreou, the leader of PASOK Evangelos Venizelos and other former ministers of the government as witnesses. According to them, this will help "the Greek people learn the truth about the decisions taken at the meetings of the government council for foreign affairs and defence."

"I am a victim of state violence," said Akis Tsochatzopoulos to the court, denying the charges against him. Then, he urged that his wife Vicki Stamati be released by saying, "My wife and I are in jail unjustly." In his statement to the court panel, he questioned why no investigation had been carried out to establish who was primarily responsible for the purchase of the weapons systems.
 
His cousin Nikos Zigras accused him of having involved him in the affair and asked for the court’s pardon and mercy. According to commentators, his decision to cooperate in every possible way with the judicial authorities  is dictated by his very poor health.

The rest of the defendants have also rejected the allegations. The process is expected to continue on 8 May.

Tags: Crime newsTrialAkis TsochatzopoulosBribesWeapon systemsCourt of appeal for criminal offences
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