Friday, 13 January 2006

Markoyannakis In His Own Words

Former deputy public order minister Christos Markoyannakis granted the Athens News an exclusive interview on the day of his resignation. 

Mr Markoyannakis, are the statements attributed to you in the newspaper Dimokratis ton Chanion correct?
Yes, probably so.

The journalist who taped you claimed that you approved of the comments being made public.

Could it be possible? That is completely fantastic. Unfortunately, this kid has a very low IQ and very limited ability to resist - he's very vulnerable to promises. He's been promised he's going to be made a big journalist and it's gone to his head. The exact opposite happened. When I realised he had come into the room - I knew him, having taken him into my political office for a couple of months before the [2004] elections - he came up to me and asked, 'Mr Christos, are the things you said printable?' I said that if I am going to say anything about anyone I'll do it on camera. And to compensate him I even gave him a brief interview on painless matters. I forbade [the use of the statement about prosecutor Linos] categorically.

There is, nonetheless, friction between you and Mr Linos. It is he, after all, who ordered the prosecutorial probe into the alleged suicide of an escaped Russian prisoner, and also into the alleged abductions of Pakistanis by police. Didn't that anger you?

Listen, I never got involved with these matters. I was annoyed by certain actions of Mr Linos' that ran counter to due legal process and were inexcusable for a supreme court prosecutor. I'll give you a couple of examples. Despite the fact that there was an automatic investigation underway into the death of the Russian, which is a step beyond a preliminary investigation, he ordered the same prosecutor to conduct a preliminary investigation. This was pure stupidity... Whenever there is a death, accidental or otherwise, police begin an investigation without the prosecutor ordering it, but a prosecutor takes the lead in that investigation. This happened in the case of the Russian. But Mr Linos succumbed to the nonsense that some TV networks were spewing about the police not doing their job properly, and ordered a preliminary investigation. That is something lower than an investigation. In an investigation you have the power to do real research and order autopsies. Most important of all, the testimony you take down is on the legal record, while in the preliminary investigation testimony goes into the case file and doesn't get used [in court].

Another example is that he ordered the exhumation of a soldier, who is meant to have committed suicide but whose relatives claimed he had not. He had no right to do so, because the military has its own prosecutorial service which is answerable not to the supreme court but directly to the defence minister.

Who made up the closed circle to which you made the comments about Dimitris Linos?

It was made up of seven or eight of my personal friends and we were in a closed room at the Kastelli offices of New Democracy. I was on a trip to hear what favours people wanted, to put it bluntly.

Did you ever have the chance to apologise rather than resign?

I wouldn't want to apologise. Mr Linos exercises his duties negligently in many cases. My only self-criticism is that I should have been milder in my expressions.

Can't the deputy public order minister have an open disagreement with a prosecutor? Why is that politically unacceptable?

Journalists made it sound as though I had made a public announcement, when this was not the case. It was clearly a case of my receiving some friends to hear their problems and their complaints. They came in one by one. At some point there was a handful left. I said to them, 'Let's sit down and cut the [New Year's] pitta.' We shut the door so as not to be heard by curious folks from other political parties, and that's when everything took place.

During your resignation today you said that you spent four hours at the minister's house. Did you speak to the prime minister?

No, only Mr Voulgarakis did.

Can you tell us what was discussed?
I can't.

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