There were strict security precautions in Athens on Wednesday (June 5) as 40 Greeks, including a former Government Minister, faced a special military tribunal on charges relating to an alleged meat scandal involving millions of dollars.
LV Interior court room and some of 40 accused, flanked by police
CU Michael Balopoulos (wearing spectacles) and Mr. Papamichalopoulos seated
SV Members of the court enter
SV Balopoulos and Papamichalopoulos
SV Members of court taking oat
CU PAN Millions of drachmas on table - exhibits in trial
SV PAN to accused
Initials GM/22.11 GM/22.40
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Background: There were strict security precautions in Athens on Wednesday (June 5) as 40 Greeks, including a former Government Minister, faced a special military tribunal on charges relating to an alleged meat scandal involving millions of dollars. Military police checked the identity of all those entering the court room, while othere with two-way radios regulated traffic outside.
The former Minister is 52-year-old Mr. Michael Balopoulos, who was Under-Secretary of Trade. He was charged with taking bribes and dereliction of duty. Mr. Balopoulos - the first Cabinet official in 50 years to be tried by a Greek court - was an important figure in the 1967 army coup which seized power and abolished Parliamentary rule. Also among the accused is the Director-General of the Trade Ministry, Mr. Zaphiris Papamichalopoulos.
The 93-page indictment claims the 40 accused illegally imported 23,000 tons of meat from Argentina and Rhodesia. They are then said to have stored the meet to create an artificial shortage, and finally to have sold it at exhorbitrnt prices. The meat from Phodesia was allegedly imported through a 'front' company in South Africa, thus breaking United Nations sanctions.
The indictment claims the most racket cost the State about 4.7 million dollars (??? million sterling) in foreign exchange and 4 million drachmas (645,000 starling) in unpaid import duties. The racket is alleged to have operated between May, 1971, and the and of last year.
About 200 witnesses will give evidence during the trial. Forty-seven of them ???ll be for the prosecution.