June 24, 2024

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Le Monde on Tulupaki: anti-corruption prosecutor on trial in Greece

Today, the French newspaper “Le Monde” widely covers the legal struggle of Eleni Tulupaki amid the scandal with “Novartis“, emphasizing the political implications of the case.

The publication cites the statements of the former anti-corruption prosecutor, who, in particular, notes: “I knew that I was threatened by corrupt officials, but the reality turned out to be beyond my imagination“.

In turn, her lawyer Yannis Mantsuranis said that the purpose of Tulupaki’s prosecution is “to in the future, no one dared to attack the so-called “untouchables”, that is, the powerful of this world in the political and economic world.”

One of the Greek political scientists also made statements to a French newspaper, but preferred to remain anonymous. “Everyone is afraid to express their opinion on this case, fearing attacks from the media, political leaders. This raises concern for the rule of law in Greece, – journalist and editor Kostas Vaksevanis quotes the political scientist. – The Mitsotakis government is trying to divert voters’ attention to other scandals related to the previous government.”

More details in the publication

“In Greece, a former anti-corruption prosecutor has been put on trial. Eleni Tulupaki has been dealing with the scandal involving the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis since 2017. Since 2019, she has faced a legal war from her opponents. She is on trial for abuse of power,” – the publication says, and then Tulupaki’s statements are given. “For four years I experienced a real desert crossing, a personal test,” says Eleni Tulupaki, a former anti-corruption prosecutor, from his law office on January 30. She has been on trial since November “abuse of power” in a special court in Athens. On January 23, she appeared before the court for the first time, and a decision on her fate is expected by the end of February.

Since 2017, the court has been investigating Novartis, a Swiss pharmaceutical company that is accused of bribing high-ranking officials and doctors to drive up drug prices on the Greek market. At the time, in the midst of the economic crisis, when lenders (the International Monetary Fund, the European Union, the European Central Bank) kept a close eye on the country’s health spending, Novartis was selling ten drugs at high prices. According to an investigation by the Greek judiciary, this practice cost the state about 3 billion euros.

Ten leading Greek politicians are involved in the case

The scandal was initiated on the basis of an FBI investigation. The Greek subsidiary of Novartis admitted that between 2012 and 2015 gave bribes to public hospital officialsc to increase sales of certain drugs. In 2020, Novartis agreed to pay $347 million (€317 million) in a settlement with the US Department of Justice. In Greece, this case is no longer the subject of any condemnation. But since June last year, Greece’s health minister has been demanding €214 million in damages from the company.

Never before have the political leaders of Greece been so divided. Government investigation Alexis Tsipras, identified more than 100 doctors, about 30 high-ranking civil servants and 10 politicians from the right-wing New Democracy Party and the socialist PASOK party. “Because drug prices are set by very high-ranking officials, at some point the investigation inevitably reached the very top, to powerful political figures.”explains Eleni Tulupaki.

Threats

New Democracy and PASOK accused the Prime Minister’s SYRIZA party and Tulupaki of a “conspiracy” to harm ten politicians. Some of the defendants, especially former health ministers, then decided to sue the prosecutor. “From the very beginning, we received threats of various kinds from the politicians we were investigating. Unidentified people broke into my house twice, taking only documents and personal records, and sending me a clear message about the danger I was in. (…) I knew that I was threatened by corrupt officials, but the reality turned out to be beyond my imagination”, – says Eleni Tulupaki today.

Following the election of a conservative “ND” government in 2019, she was removed from office. In 2020, parliament passed a law abolishing the position of anti-corruption prosecutor, and Ms. Tulupaki’s cases were transferred to the prosecutor responsible for financial crimes. Now she cannot apply to the European Prosecutor’s Office, as she would like. Of the 10 politicians against whom a preliminary investigation was launched, only three eventually became the subject of legal proceedings.

Investigations proceeded as usual

In 2021, the judges decided that the case was closed and it was impossible to find out where the large sums of money found in the accounts of the accused came from. In the summer of 2022, the judiciary also conclusively found that Tulupaka’s Novartis investigation was properly conducted and she was not trying to incite a conspiracy against these politicians.

The last stage of the trial against the former prosecutor is over. This time she’s accused of “abuse of authority“Several politicians involved in the Novartis case on the grounds that she did not submit documents to Parliament regarding the former SYRIZA minister of health involved in the scandal. In her defense in court, Tulupaki referred to a speech by Emmanuel Macron addressed to the descendants of Alfred Dreyfus in October 2021: “This man has endured the worst – humiliation, silence, isolation. Nothing will fix these humiliations, but let’s not aggravate them by leaving them forgotten (…) or repeating them“.

According to the lawyer of former prosecutor Yiannis Mantsuranis, “This trial will remain in the judicial annals of our country”. Through Ms. Tulupaki, an attack is being made on the independence of judges and prosecutors, and the goal is that in the future they will not dare to attack the so-called “untouchables”, that is, the powers that be in the political and economic world.”

“I have never, for at least 25 years, seen such trials against prosecutors in Greece. Everyone is afraid to take any position in this case, fearing attacks from the media, political leaders. This causes concern for the rule of law in Greece “– said the political scientist, who preferred to remain anonymous.

Seen since the summer in the case of illegal wiretapping of political opponents, journalists and ministers, “The Mitsotakis government is trying to divert voters’ attention to other scandals related to the previous government,” said Documento weekly director Kostas Vaksevanis, who was accused by some of the officials targeted by Novartis of being part of a “conspiracy” to expose them to the scandal and acquitted last June.



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