Samaras, Commissioner Avramopoulos reject summons to Novartis parl’y committee

Former Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and EU Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told the preliminary committee investigating the Novartis case on Thursday that they would not appear to testify in Parliament on Tuesday.

The committee is looking into the liability of two former prime ministers and eight former ministers over an alleged bribery and money laundering scandal involving the pharmaceutical company. Committee chairman Thodoris Dritsas had said Samaras and others would be invited to a hearing on Tuesday.

In separate letters, the two politicians questioned the legality of the committee and said they would gladly testify once the anonymous protected witnesses – on which the case mainly rests – are revealed and appear for a hearing.

Samaras said that he did not want to participate in what he called a conspiracy against him and said he is “demanding the substantial investigation of the whole case, with all witnesses and all facts examined.”

Avramopoulos, a former health minister, said the committee “has lost its legality under its present composition” as all opposition members had walked out, and referred to two injunctions he had filed at the Supreme Court questioning the status of protected witnesses.

Besides Samaras and Avramopoulos, summons for Tuesday were sent to former PM Panagiotis Pikrammenos and former health ministers Andreas Loverdos – who has declined to appear – and Andreas Lykourentzos.

The committee is scheduled to meet on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday in morning and evening sessions, and all of the named politicians were invited to also express their opinion of whether the committee has the jurisdiction to try the case, or should turn it over to the regular courts.

Former ministers Marios Salmas, Adonis Georgiadis, Yannis Stournaras and Giorgos Koutroumanis are expected to be summoned next. Loverdos has declined and former minister and deputy PM Evangelos VEnizelos has testified already.