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Greek journalist in limbo over Swiss bank leaks

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Greek journalist in limbo over Swiss bank leaks
Photo: Liana Bitoli
14:25 CEST+02:00
A Greek court on Monday postponed the retrial of a journalist who was cleared last year over the publication of leaked Swiss bank account data in a case that has deeply embarrassed the government.

The adjournment came just days after Greek lawmakers voted in favour of widening a parliamentary probe into a former finance minister over the handling of the confidential document known as the "Lagarde list".
 
Costas Vaxevanis, the publisher of investigative magazine Hot Doc, branded 
his trial a "farce" after the court adjourned the case to October 8th at the request of the defence.
   
Vaxevanis was controversially charged last year for publishing an alleged 
copy of the "Lagarde list" of suspected tax dodgers, triggering charges of Greek press censorship.

The document contains the names of more than 2,000 wealthy Greek HSBC bank account holders in Switzerland and was used to pursue suspected tax evaders.
   
It was originally leaked by an HSBC employee in Geneva and passed to Greece in 2010 
by France's then finance minister Christine Lagarde, who now heads the International Monetary Fund.
   
The list enabled authorities in France, Spain and Britain to seek 
millions of euros in lost tax revenue, but Greek authorities treated it as stolen data and failed to pursue the case.
   
Vaxevanis' first trial became a major embarrassment for the government 
which was accused of trying to bury the issue and censor the journalist.
   
The 46-year-old was acquitted in November but a retrial was ordered after 
the prosecutor said there were "legal faults" in the original verdict.
   
Defence lawyer Harris Economopoulos branded it a "political trial" while 
Vaxevanis said it had become a "farce".
   
Last Thursday, Greek lawmakers decided that George Papaconstantinou — who 
originally received the list from Lagarde — should be investigated for damaging the image of the public treasury during his stint as finance minister.
   
He is also accused of tampering with the "Lagarde list" to hinder a probe 
into tax evasion, by deleting the names of three of his relatives from the list.
   
The ex-minister, who has retired from politics, helped set up the indebted 
country's first austerity programme and European Union-IMF bailout plan in 2010, and protests that he is being used as a scapegoat.

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