EU Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos on Tuesday was the latest Greek politician - one of 10 implicated in an indictment involving the Greek subsidiary of drug manufacturer Novartis - to lash out at the leftist-rightist coalition government, with the usually mild-mannered former minister stating that the "scum who set up this conspiracy will find themselves in the dock".
Avramopoulos, along with two former prime ministers, the current Greek central banker and a host of former health ministers, has been implicated in alleged bribery, kickbacks and money laundering allegations by at least one of three "protected witnesses" who gave testimony to an anti-corruption prosecutor. Avramopoulos spoke to the Athens television station Skai.
The Novartis Hellas probe had been underway for nearly three years before the three protected witnesses began giving testimony, over several interviews and beginning roughly three months ago. In fact, the last interview came on a Sunday, the same day as a massive rally in downtown Athens.
In an equally scathing tone, former minister and PASOK party leader Evangelos Venizelos referred to an "abuse of power against me, in the legal sense of the term. They exposed me to prosecution while at the same time knowing that not only am I innocent, but completely untouched by this case." Venizelos on Tuesday filed a lawsuit in relation to the indictment.
Later in the evening, former health minister and current ND vice-president Adonis Georgiadis also announced that he had filed a lawsuit against the unnamed "protected witnesses", alleging perjury, libel and false accusations.
On her part, a main opposition New Democracy (ND) party spokeswoman referred to what she called a foolish and invalid attempt by the government to sully the reputation of its political opponents.
"The infamous protected witnesses testified anonymously, without being in a protected witness regime (at the time)," spokeswoman Maria Spyraki said.
Conversely, unnamed government sources charged that ND is "hiding behind pretenses over procedure in order to block the Novartis probe."