The trial of Greek former transport minister Tassos Mantelis, who has been indicted for allegedly accepting bribes from Siemens slush funds, may well become another Siemens-related case that is quietly dropped — or in this case “indefinitely adjourned” — after the recent death of presiding judge Aggelis Triantopoulos was announced on Wednesday.
The case against Mantelis and another four defendants facing charges for accepting bribes from the Siemens parent company in Germany had gone to trial on November 11, 2013 but made halting progress due to an ongoing lawyers’ strike and serious health problems faced by the 58-year-old presiding judge. The latter had caused the trial to be adjourned until September 19 but the judge’s unexpected death has cast the entire trial in limbo. Even though it was expected to be lengthy, no replacement judges had been selected, meaning that the court will have to adjourn and wait for a new trial date the next time it reconvenes.
Mantelis and the other four defendants are on trial for an alleged bribe given to him in two installments, which he had claimed to be a Siemens campaign contribution to support his election bid. The case forms part of a larger case concerning the contract signed between the Greek state telecoms firm OTE and Siemens when Mantelis was minister in 1997. This case was also indefinitely postponed on Tuesday on a technicality, resulting from a failure to present the foreign defendants on trial with a copy of indictment and charges translated into their language.
The charges against Mantelis claim that the former minister accepted the sum of 450,000 marks (230,000 euros) from Siemens in 1998 and 2000 through a Swiss bank account under the name Rocos, in exchange for giving Siemens the OTE contract. Others facing charges in connection with the bribery case were his friend Giorgos Tsougranis, tax official Antonia Markou, former Siemens Hellas executive Ilias Georgiou and a former associate, Aristidis Mantas.