At last, Andreas has been irreversibly acquitted on the primary charge of falsifying the deficit and causing damage to the Greek economy. The Chief Prosecutor has not asked for an annulment (this time). This is not the end of the saga, however, since there is still a significant open legal case, and one irreversible conviction outstanding. Plus, there is also possibly an open criminal investigation into the deficit calculations. This saga will not be over until Andreas is fully exonerated, and the web of multiple court cases are all permanently closed. We articulate the details of the outstanding court cases below.
An open slander case
The most notable open case is a slander charge, which was brought by Nicolas Stroblos, the director of the Greek national accounts division of statistics from 2006 to 2010. Stroblos asserted that Andreas slandered him in a July 2014 press release that defended the revised statistics that Andreas was producing. You can imagine that it might be difficult to make an argument that the new statistics are right without also asserting that previous statistics were incorrect! Moreover, per the European Statistics Code of Practice, the head of the national statistics agency is required to defend statistics when they are questioned. However, in Greece, a “simple slander” law means that even true statements can be judged as slanderous, and it is under this rule that Andreas has been convicted.
The most egregious aspect of this conviction is that the judgement required Andreas to publish specific parts of the civil court’s decision as a ‘public apology’ with significant monetary penalty for every day of delay of such publication. Specifically, Andreas would be required to pay approximately 18,500 euro plus 200 euro for every day of delay in the publication of the public apology. Andreas has appealed the case, which is scheduled to be heard in May of this year.
On September 1, 2016, the Chief Prosecutor of Greece ordered a new, separate, preliminary criminal investigation into the deficit calculations. This investigation included not simply Andreas, but also certain ELSTAT senior staff, also officials from the European Commission/Eurostat and the International Monetary Fund. There is no information available about whether this case has been closed or remains open five years on.
An unjust conviction
Finally, we can not forget that Andreas has been convicted of “violation of duty” because he submitted official statistics regarding the 2009 deficit directly to Eurostat without first allowing the ELSTAT board members to vote on them. EU rules are clear that statistics are explicitly the ‘sole responsibility’ of the head of the statistical agency. Greece, as a member of European Union, should adhere to European statistical rules, and the Greek judicial system should be expected to enforce that requirement. This conviction is clearly inappropriate. It should further be noted that Andreas was originally acquitted on this charge in open trial by an unanimous decision of a three judge court following the acquitting proposal of the prosecutor, but this acquittal was annulled after the trial by another prosecutor and Andreas was subjected to a double jeopardy trial.
Exoneration is the only remedy within the Greek justice system.