Latest witness before Parliament com't probing Novartis investigation also denies he's an 'anonymous witness'

Wednesday, 27 November 2019 21:34
UPD:28/11/2019 08:26
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The latest witness on Wednesday to appear before members of a Parliamentary fact-finding committee also maintained that he's not one of three anonymous witnesses whose allegations - including hearsay testimony - implicated 10 former prime ministers and ministers in a prominent, interminable and now utterly controversial prosecutor's investigation into alleged Novartis kickbacks and bribes in Greece.

One-time Novartis Greece communications and advertising director Filistor Destebasidis nevertheless invoked a "Fifth Amendment" stance in declining to answer if he knew of past or present office-holders received kickbacks, although such as right against self-incrimination - a mainstay of US law - is feeble under Greece's legal system. He also maintained that despite his position with Swiss pharmaceutical giant's subsidiary he did not know which mass media hosted Novartis ads, nor whom was on the company's payroll.

He also claimed he has never been summoned to testify regarding the investigation by anti-corruption chief prosecutor Eleni Touloupaki.

Following a vote by the committee's members, Destebasidis' six-hour testimony was forwarded to the Athens first instance prosecutor's office accompanied by an official query on whether his refusal to answer numerous questions constituted the offense of perjury.

Press speculation over the recent period revolved around whether Destebasidis was one of the two remaining anonymous witnesses, with one of the trio, Nikos Maniadakis, already having "surfaced", only to recant his testimony.

The fact-finding committee was established by a majority vote in the Palriament plenum to investigation possible wrongdoing by former alternate justice minister Dimitris Papaggelopoulos and, possibly, others.

New Democracy party (ND), while in the opposition, and other parties have charged that the ongoing Novartis probe is a "judicial conspiracy" that aimed to sully political rivals of leftist SYRIZA party, which up until July 2019 was the ruling party.

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