- Title: GREECE-VOTE/BRIBE Greek lawmaker alleges bribe offer to vote with government
- Date: 19th December 2014
- Summary: ATHENS, GREECE (DECEMBER 19, 2014) (REUTERS) ***WARNING CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** INDEPENDENT GREEKS POLITICIAN, PAVLOS HAIKALIS, AND INDEPENDENT GREEKS PARTY LEADER, PANOS KAMENOS, SITTING DOWN AT NEWS CONFERENCE HAIKALIS AND KAMENOS AT NEWS CONFERENCE HAIKALIS AT NEWS CONFERENCE HAIKALIS AND KAMENOS AT NEWS CONFERENCE (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) INDEPENDENT GREEKS POLITICIAN, PAVLOS HAIKALIS, SAYING: "At the beginning I thought it was a joke, that I was being humoured. When I saw that it was serious, very serious, I did not for a moment think to succumb, but instead I informed the president and the procedure mentioned was followed." KAMENOS HOLDING UP A CD (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) INDEPENDENT GREEKS LEADER, PANOS KAMENOS, SAYING: "We decided with Mr. Haikalis, and with the assistance of natural and technical surveillance, we recorded the meeting that was set up at the Plaza Hotel, where the so called middleman, for one hour and 14 minutes essentially made him an offer to vote for the President of the Republic in exchange for money." KAMENOS AND HAIKALIS AT NEWS CONFERENCE
- Embargoed: 3rd January 2015 12:00
- Location: Greece
- Country: Greece
- Topics: General
- Reuters ID: LVA8H5T5UNSFRP6KS4F4NJKKJHDG
- Story Text: A lawmaker from a minority Greek party, whose support the government needs to avoid a snap election, said on Friday (December 19) that he had been offered a bribe by an individual to cast his ballot for the ruling coalition's presidential candidate.
He said the offer had not been made by anyone in the government but by an individual "in the financial sector".
The accusation was made by Pavlos Haikalis, an actor and member of the Independent Greeks party, and came two days after Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' government failed to win enough parliamentary support for its candidate in the first round of voting for a new president.
Two more votes are expected, on December 23 and December 29. If the candidate, Stavros Dimas, still lacks the necessary votes in the final round then, according to the constitution, Greece must hold a snap parliamentary election which opinion polls say the main opposition leftist Syriza party would win.
Haikalis, a star of popular television comedies, said at a news conference that he had been offered a package worth 2-3 million euros, which included 700,000 euros in cash, a promise to pay off his mortgage, and advertising contracts in exchange for backing Dimas.
"At the beginning I thought it was a joke, that I was being humoured. When I saw that it was serious, very serious, I did not for a moment think to succumb, but instead I informed the president and the procedure mentioned was followed," he said.
Leader of the Independent Greeks, Panos Kamenos, said there were video and audio recording of the conversation which had been given to a prosecutor. He held up a CD allegedly containing the recordings at the conference.
He said the event took place 15 days ago, but they did not make it public then so as not to hinder the prosecutors investigation.
"We decided with Mr. Haikalis, and with the assistance of natural and technical surveillance, we recorded the meeting that was set up at the Plaza Hotel, where the so called middleman, for one hour and 14 minutes essentially made him an offer to vote for the President of the Republic in exchange for money," said Kamenos.
Government spokeswoman Sofia Voultepsi dismissed Haikalis' claims and urged him to make public the evidence he said had been passed on to prosecutors.
"It is obvious why this is being staged -- so that a new president is not elected and the country is led to early elections," Voultepsi said in a written statement.
Opposition Syriza party leader Alexis Tsipras said the allegations had to be fully investigated and explained. The centre-left PASOK party, part of the ruling coalition with Samaras' centre-right New Democracy party, also called for a quick investigation into the allegations.
Prosecutors have been investigating similar accusations of political bribery in recent weeks but have yet to formally accuse anyone.
The government needs as many as 20 votes from independents and small parties to get its presidential candidate approved by the final round of elections on December 29.
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