Greece: 3rd suspect held in Siemens bribery case | world | Hindustan Times
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Greece: 3rd suspect held in Siemens bribery case

world Updated: Jun 04, 2009 16:51 IST

Court officials said Thursday a third former executive with the Greek branch of Siemens AG has been ordered jailed pending trial for alleged corruption, in a case that has dominated political debate ahead of this weekend's European Parliament elections.

Ilias Georgiou, 68, will be jailed after he is released from hospital, where he was being treated under police guard after falling ill Wednesday during his appearance before an investigating magistrate.

Georgiou has been charged with bribery and money laundering over a 1990s contract the German industrial company won with Greece's largest telecom company, OTE, which was then state-owned. A total of six former Siemens executives and one former official with OTE have been charged in the scandal, as well as the wife and daughters of one of the executives. All the suspects deny any wrongdoing.

According to the charges, former Siemens officials paid some 57 million euros in kickbacks to secure the OTE deal. Greek officials are also investigating alleged corruption in deals between Siemens and the state involving security systems for the 2004 Athens Olympics.

The scandal has battered public trust in the country's political system after widespread Greek media reports that the country's main parties allegedly received payments from Siemens slush funds. The governing conservatives, trailing the main opposition Socialists by more than 3 points ahead of the weekend vote, have accused their opponents of involvement in the scandal. But the conservatives blocked a Socialist motion for a Parliamentary probe into whether politicians were involved, arguing that the judicial inquiry was still in progress and had not implicated any serving or former government ministers.

Late Wednesday, a former OTE executive, Giorgos Skarpelis, suffered a mild stroke during his appearance before magistrate Nikos Zagorianos and was taken to a hospital under police guard. Zagorianos attempted to continue his interview with Skarpelis in the hospital, but doctors said the 68-year-old was not well enough to be questioned.

Georgiou and Skarpelis have both said they could not give testimony because their lawyers had not been allowed to see all the case documents.

A total of three of the six former Siemens Greece executives have been ordered jailed pending trail. Arrest warrants have been issued against another two who have fled the country. One other is out on bail.

Court officials have toughened their handling of the suspects, and took the unusual step of issuing arrest warrants the wife and three daughters of one of the fugitives, former Siemens financial director Christos Karavellas, with complicity in money laundering.