Thessaloniki.- The Council of State rejected on Friday a petition by Panagiotis Psomiadis requesting the suspension of a decision by the Macedonia-Thrace secretary general that stripped him of his position as prefect of Central Macedonia. The council justified its decision on the basis of serving the public interest.
The secretary general had made his decision following an irreversible decision by Greek courts earlier in the day sentencing Psomiadis to 15 months in jail, with a three-year suspension of the sentence, for breach of duty. Psomiadis was charged with reducing an 89,000 euro fine handed to a fuel station owner for allegedly adulterating fuel to 5,000 euros.
Psomiadis claimed the decision of the secretary general was unconstitutional and illegal, among other reasons. The Council of State called on a 2010 law, according to which the by-right loss of position by a regional officer’s is “an administrative measure, rather than a criminal or disciplinary action,” which it said “aims, by removing the elected individual who has been irreversibly sentenced over a criminal act, at protecting public interest.”
Suspended sentences of 12 months were handed down to three other defendants in the case, while two were acquitted.
Psomiadis and his five co-defendants, all former prefecture employees, faced charges of breach of duty aimed to illegally benefit third parties.
The former prefect was accused of not setting up special bodies (in violation of existing legislation) to carry out inspections and implement the imposed sanctions on owners of factories and other units that pollute the lake. Also, he was accused of delaying a repeat inspection of the factory plants in question, of delaying the imposition of fines suggested by environment inspectors and of arbitrarily reducing them by 24,660 euros.