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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 13-04-22
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 New KKE leader warns of coming EU-based restrictions to people, partiesANA/MPA -- The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) is "ever-ready and able to act under all conditions," said on Monday Dimitris Koutsoumbas in his first public address since being elected party secretary general on April 14, at the Eleftherias (Freedom) Park in Athens.
Speaking at an event by the party's Attica branch on the anniversary of the dictatorship forty-six years ago, Koutsoumbas said KKE was always present "during both upswings of the movement and during times of difficulty for the people, workers and youth."
Referring to the anniversary, he charged the Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) party with being "the natural and political offspring of the junta" and said that party's "love of dictatorship and Nazism affirms that it is the extreme voice of capital and of the system and plutocracy."
The secretary general also charged that "the bourgeois parliamentary democracy, as we have known it after the dictatorship, is finished," and said that "the bourgeoisie keeps appearing more and more to be unable to compromise even with the bourgeoisie democracy it has established. Developments in the country seem to bode that a complete about-face to reaction can end up crystallised in a new revision of the constitution."
Koutsoumbas warned that new "Euro-unionist laws and processes are being prepared to restrict the right to strike, while the way is being paved to restrict parties' action and operation, by distinguishing between parties 'within and without the constitutional range', by interventions in parties' internal affairs and by targeting the KKE."
 Kickbacks, money-laundering trial of former defence minister Tsohatzopoulos to resume May 8ANA/MPA-- The trial of former PASOK defence minister and 18 others implicated in a money laundering and kickbacks in armaments procurement programmes opened Monday morning in an Athens criminal court.
Following the session, the trial was adjourned and will resume after the Easter holiday, on May 8.
Appearing in court on Monday, along with another 18 defendants facing money-laundering and kickbacks charges linked to armament procurements programmes, former Greek defence minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos pleaded not guilty and denied all the charges against him. The trial began earlier that morning before an Athens criminal appeals court.
"I absolutely and categorically deny the charges, with which there is a systematic attempt to give the impression that there was some illegal criminal organisation, a gang, whose purpose was to launder money and that behind this, supposedly, was the defence minister of Greece, when for six years we did the best that could be done for the country," Tsohatzopoulos said, looking stern and visibly irritated.
The former minister said he felt insulted that he was obliged to constantly repeat the same things, claiming the existence of a "centrally guided course" behind his prosecution.
"For 12 months I have been held on remand, myself and my wife and my daughter; it is unfair, there is state force exercised against us," he complained.
He asked the court to release his wife Viki Stamati, who he said was in prison on his account.
Unlike the minister, his cousin and long-term partner Nikos Zigras pleaded guilty to all the charges to which he had confessed in testimony to an examining magistrate, saying that he had been embroiled in the affair by Tsohatzopoulos.
"I apologise to everyone and ask for your mercy," he told the court.
Speaking through her counsel, the minister's wife said that her only crime was to marry the former government vice-president and she denied knowing any of the other defendants with the exception of Zigras, whom she claimed to know only on a social level.
All the remaining defendants pleaded not guilty and denied the charges against them, while the lawyer representing Tsohatzopoulos' daughter and ex-wife said his clients were unable to be present in the courtroom due to their "psychosomatic condition".
Earlier, there was tension in the court when the deputy public prosecutor Panagiotis Panagiotopoulos was reading out the charges. The defence protested that the public prosecutor's tone was "too intense" and that he appeared to be making an address rather than merely announcing the charges.
Panagiotopoulos, on his part, countered that the court did not say anything other than the words used in the indictment.
The defence has also petitioned that the Greek state be expelled from the court as a civil party, with a court decision on the request still pending.
Tsohatzopoulos and another 18 defendants are accused of taking kickbacks to grant Greek state armament contracts and of "political money laundering".
The former minister, who is in custody pending trial, on Friday sent letters to 10 former members of the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) of that period, asking them to appear in court and testify at his trial. All were in office when the purchase of the German submarines and the Russian-designed anti-aircraft missile system TOR M1 was approved but none of the witnesses proposed by Tsohatzopoulos attended.
Those on the stand, apart from Tsohatzopoulos, include his wife Vicky Stamati, his daughter Areti Tsohatzopoulou, his German ex-wife Gudrun, a close aide and former armaments secretary general Yannis Sbokos and 13 other individuals, for whom there is incriminating evidence indicating active participation in the scandal.
Tsohatzopoulos is accused of laundering money using offshore firms that he owned, which he used for real estate transactions or other investment activities to legalize the money he received as kickbacks from military procurement deals signed when he was defence minister. Based on the charges against, he was assisted in his actions by businessmen, lawyers, his former and present wife and his daughter.
Other defendants include his brother-in-law, Vicky Stamati's brother Panagiotis, accountant Efrosyni Lambropoulou, land developer Asterios Economidis, businessman George Sahpatzidis, lawyer Talita Tsekoura, the representative of the Morelia offshore company Horatio Melas, alleged co-owners of the offshore company Torcaso Constantinos Antoniadis and Pantelis Zahariadis, alleged owner of the offshore company Nobilis Nicos Georgoulakis.
The trial is taking place in the Areios Paghos (Supreme Court) building's ceremonies hall.
Five defendants - Tsohatzopoulos' daughter Areti , his former wife Gudrun, Melas, Georgoulakis and Antoniadis - did not show up for the proceedings and were represented by state-appointed defence attorneys.
The court went into recess for approximately one hour, while the court president informed all the witnesses present that they may leave, given that the first day will be taken up with procedural matters.
 FinMin: Economy to grow in 2014ANA/MPA -- For the first time, after six years, we forecast a small positive economic growth rate in 2014," Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said on Monday.
In a radio interview, Stournaras said that a property tax –paid through electricity bills- will be reduced by 15 pct and noted that from 2014 this tax will be replaced by a new single tax. The Finance minister said the government's policy was to reduce tax factors from now on and noted that if the government achieved to present a primary budget surplus in the first half of the year, "then our arguments to reducing a VAT on tourism will become stronger".
Stournaras reminded that the road ahead was difficult, but noted that "it seems that the situation has stabilized. The big bet we must win now is to combine a further fiscal adjustment with economic growth. Greece has sector which could become champions in growth. We are beginning to be more optimistic".
Commenting on a reform in the public sector, Stournaras said an evaluation procedures of all public sector workers will help in upgrading the quality of the public sector.
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