After having been provided free police bodyguards, some 4,200 at one point, Greek politicians, key journalists, business executives and others deemed likely targets of criminals and terrorists will have to pay for the cost if their income is more than 100,000 euros ($130,000) under a plan put forth by the government.
The order came from Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias after the embarrassing revelation that former deputy prime minister Theodoros Pangalos, a PASOK Socialist stalwart who has retired and no longer in public service, is being allowed to keep four as bodyguards and escorts and the government was paying the cost of his travel into Athens.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ coalition administration had already returned 460 police officers to duty from their posts as guards for VIP’s and he had cut his own personal security staff.
Dendias said that the police would review the number of officers used to guard people seen as potential targets. After the last review in the autumn of 2012, the number of the guards was cut to 486, all paid by a government cutting pay, raising taxes and slashing pensions.
Dendias told Parliament of the reassignments but offered no explanation why Pangalos was continuing to receive benefits when he’s not working for the government anymore and isn’t a former Prime Minister.
During his time in office, the outspoken Pangalos ired many Greeks with his comment that, “We all ate it together,” blaming them as well as the government for an orgy of overspending that bankrupted the country.
He also was notorious for running up cell phone bills of thousands of euros a month at a time when the government was imposing harsh austerity measures on workers, pensioners and the poor.
Dendias said that the force was in the process of examining whether more officers could be relieved of having to guard politicians, businessmen, journalists and other potential targets for criminals and terrorists, with some newly-sprung groups warning they have targeted them.
There has been a spate of incidents of bomb Last September, he removed guards for MP’s of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party after they were accused of leading raids on food stalls operated by immigrants, frequent targets of the party.
Last July, a month after Samaras took office, Dendias began a review of the guard details which numbered 4,200 and said 1,500 policemen, 100 patrol cars and 60 motorcycles would be put on regular duty.
“They will stop guarding special targets and will be thrown into the fight against crime, the fight for the safety of Greek citizens,” he said