The journalist Kostas Vaxevanis was acquitted of the charges pressed against him upon the revelations of the “Hot Doc” magazine regarding the relations of the Governor of the Bank of Greece, Yannis Stournaras, and his wife, Lina Nikolopoulou, with the Greek Centre of Disease Control and Prevention (in Greek known as “KEELPNO”) and the Ministry of Health, from which the couple received extortionate amounts of money on different occasions.
The court accepted as true all the revelations made by the journalist, against whom the wife of the Central Bank Governor had pressed charges for defamation. This means it accepted that the wife of Yannis Stournaras, through her company “Mindwork”, was winning public competitions by using, inter alia, the name of her husband, a major player in the Greek political scene for several years, as well as that she was organizing conferences in which big pharmaceutical companies acted as donors and in which Yannis Stournaras participated as a speaker; even though his capacity had nothing to do with their scope.
One of the most important facts which Kostas Vaxevanis and the journalistic team of the “Hot Doc” magazine shed light on is that Lina Stournara’s company had participated in and had won a competition of “KEELPNO”, that is the Greek public sector, for advertising one of its campaigns on cancer.
The first problem was that cancer, as a scope, was not under the jurisdiction of KEELPNO; the second that “Mindwork” did not have the right to participate in the competition given that there was a sentence pending against its chief. The third problem was that it was never proven whether the TV spots, for which Lina Nikolopoulou got paid, were shown.
During his plea in the court, Kostas Vaxevanis pointed out that the journalist is obliged to uncover the truth others are trying to hide and shall be able to criticize. He added that it is not about having a calm public life but an honest one.
Finally, he underlined the fact that he has had no convictions although there have been almost 70 charges against him upon his revelatory reports. He also referred to the case of the businessman Andreas Vgenopoulos, who was persecuted after the revelations of the “Hot Doc” magazine, but also the case (also revealed by Kostas Vaxevanis) of the Minister of the right-wing party “Nea Dimokratia”, Yannis Michelakis, who recently was sentenced for bribery.
Earlier, the prosecutor had proposed the acquittal of Kostas Vaxevanis, suggesting that he is an investigative journalist who is after scandals and that his role is to monitor the authorities and the public administration.
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