Former PMs, ministers turn down summons to Novartis parliamentary committee

Former Prime Minister Panagiotis Pikrammenos and former health minister Adonis Georgiadis joined former PM Antonis Samaras and EU Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos on Thursday in notifying the preliminary committee investigating the Novartis case 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, Samaras and Avramopoulos 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.

Pikrammenos said in a letter to the committee chairman he would not appear to offer his opinion on procedures when Parliament had rules to the effect, and offered to testify in the future “on the substance” of the issue. In a separate letter, Georgiadis said the committee’s request was “irrational and obviously unconstitutional” and pointed out that “your committee, in case you are not aware of it, has a prosecutor’s powers, and what you are asking me to do sounds like a prosecutor summoning me for my opinion on whether he has the jurisdiction to summon me or not.”

The committee is meeting 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 minister and deputy PM Evangelos Venizelos has testified already, while former health minister Andreas Loverdos has also declined to appear.