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Our View: Former Laiki execs making a mockery of Greek and Cypriot legal systems

WE DO NOT know how Greece’s judicial system operates, but appearances suggest that it is not taken very seriously by Greek nationals. Certainly not by those with power and money such as the former director of bankrupt Laiki Bank Markos Foros and its CEO Efthymios Bouloutas who were due to appear in a Cyprus court on Wednesday in connection with several offences.

Greece’s highest court had approved an application from the Cyprus Republic for the extradition of the pair on April 15 and both men promised to turn themselves in to the Greek authorities on May 9 in order to appear in the Cyprus court two days later. As was widely expected, neither turned himself in on Monday and yesterday were represented in court by their lawyers who asked the court to review its decision about the need for the two defendants from Greece being present at the hearing.

Bouloutas and Foros, like the former big boss of Laiki Andreas Vgenopoulos, have made a mockery of the judicial system in Greece and at the same were having a laugh at Cyprus’ courts. On Wednesday their attorney read a statement, saying the two had decided it was unnecessary for them to appear in court in Cyprus in order to safeguard other legal procedures relating to Laiki that were currently under way. They were referring to the procedure at the International Court of Arbitration in Paris and one in the Greek courts.

It is astounding that the defendants have decided to overrule the extradition decision of Greece’s highest court. They consider themselves above the law, which might not be unreasonable, given that the court relied on the defendants’ word, to turn their selves in on May 9. Will Greek police now be sent to arrest the two men? Vgenopoulos, meanwhile gave a news conference yesterday to advertise his contempt for the Greek judiciary, accusing, by name, two senior judges, of “blindly serving the interests of Cyprus” which was “persecuting MIG executives for non-existent financial offences”.

Vgenopoulos also considers himself above the Greek law, alleging yesterday that two Greek high court judges had violated their duties and had been paid off. He also tried to turn the court case into a dispute between Cyprus and Greece, urging the prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, not to extradite Bouloutas and Foros. The contempt of court shown by Vgenopoulos and his MIG sidekicks raises serious questions about the rule of law in Greece and an even bigger question over whether Cyprus’ authorities will ever be able to bring the Laiki bankers to the island to stand trial.

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