A former justice minister has declared publicly that the government of which he was a member deceitfully voted into law a new Penal Code right before the 2019 general election in order to benefit certain individuals who had been charged with bribe-taking, by making the crime a misdemeanour rather than a felony, as it was before, so that their cases would be closed quickly.

Indeed, he cited one particular case about which he is prepare to testify and detail all he knows. What is more, he maintains that the last-minute approval of the Penal Code by Parliament determined the timing of elections as after having declared elections the government decided to postpone them for one week in order to pass it into law.

That is how the new investigation into former minister Stavros Kontonis’ allegations was launched. His charges appear to be exceptionally serious and therefore there must be an in-depth judicial probe.

The allegations imply that there were close ties between the then ruling party and corrupt interests.

That is not only because Kontonis charges that such actions were “class-based”, but also because they suggest that the country’s first left-wing government had maintained dubious ties with oligarchs.

These allegations must be probed because the charge that a government hastily established a statute of limitations on a serious crime is a threat to the foundations of parliamentary democracy as they cast doubt on the integrity of its institutions.

We must not respond to these charges light-heartedly because they come from someone who was a key minister in the then left-wing government.

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