A Greek special court convicted ex-minister of SYRIZA Nikos Pappas to a maximum two-year sentence with a three-year probation Friday over the handling of a 2016 television licence tender under the former government.
Pappas, who served as minister of digital policy, telecommunications and media from November 2016 to July 2019, was found guilty of ministerial negligence during the controversial television licence tender.
The court also imposed a 5,000-euro fine on businessman Christos Kalogritsas for his role in the auction.
In a statement, Pappas denounced the decision as politically motivated. Earlier, through his lawyers, he stated that he did not request mitigation because he does not feel guilty.
“The defense of Nikos Pappas does not request recognition of mitigating factors. This is because the submission of the request means an indirect recognition of the legal and substantive correctness of the conviction and subsequently of the guilt of the applicant for mitigation.”
Pappas was a close associate of SYRIZA leader Tsipras
Pappas was a prominent figure in the leftist administration of SYRIZA and a close associate of leader Alexis Tsipras.
The conservative government also reacted to the verdict, with spokesman Ioannis Oikonomou describing it as a “hard blow” for opposition chief Alexis Tsipras.
He also challenged Tsipras to assume the political responsibility for the decision by removing Pappas from the party ticket as well as ousting him from the party.
The Greek Parliament voted in 2021 to create a special committee to investigate allegations of foul play by Pappas.
The committee investigated crimes committed during the exercise of Pappas’ ministerial duties, but specifically the charge of bribery and repeated breach of duty. After the investigation which produced strong evidence of guilt, the issue was referred to a special court.
Kalogritsas, who took part in the auction process for TV licences has accused Pappas of “rigging” the competition.
It accused the opposition of having tolerated the fact that for 27 years, TV channel owners had illegally and unconstitutionally avoided paying for the public frequencies they used.
Through the auction, it raised an unexpected €246 million from the licence scheme, which was welcomed by the European Commission.
Greek Premier Alexis Tsipras had promised to grant this money to people who had been most affected by austerity policies.