Tsohatzopoulos, co-defendants testify before examining magistrate

Athens

Former PASOK minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos denied, in testimony before an examining magistrate on Wednesday, that he received any bribes or kickbacks during his political career. The jailed ex-minister testified in a money laundering case related with defence ministry armaments’ programmes.

“I have received no gifts or engaged in quid pro quo practices throughout my political career,” Tsohatzopoulos said in his testimony and rejected accusations of money laundering aimed at concealing bribes he allegedly received for armaments programmes while he was in the ministry of defence. He also rejected accusations that he was involved in offshore firms.

The examining magistrate repeatedly underlined to the former minister that a number of people close to him appear in the controversial offshore firms and are involved in transactions of real estate purchased by members of his family, a pattern characterised as a series of “coincidences” by the defendant.

Nikos Zigras, a cousin of Tsohatzopoulos and one of the defendants in custody pending trial, invoked his right to refrain from testifying by saying that he did not have enough time to prepare his testimony.

Accountant Efrosini Lambropoulou testified that Zigras never had companies in his possession despite Tsohatzopoulos’ allegations to the contrary.

Asterios Economidis, owner of a construction company that renovated real estate property that ended up in the possession of Tsohatzopoulos and also sold a house to his daughter, maintained in his testimony that it was impossible for him to know about the charges against the former minister.

Entrepreneur Giorgos Sahpatzidis, who bought the Kifissias Avenue real estate from TORCASO and subsequently sold it to the Vatopedi Monastery, said that did not know that Zigras or Tsohatzopoulos could be behind the offshore firm which was involved in the transaction.

An indictment claims that the longtime PASOK cadre received kickbacks for the Russian-made Tor-M1 anti-aircraft missile system and the German-made 214-type submarines from the shipbuilder HDW.

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