Greek prosecutor closes bribery investigation before vote

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 22, 2014 2:32 PM

ATHENS (Reuters) - A Greek prosecutor has closed an investigation into allegations that a lawmaker was offered a bribe to back the government in a tight vote in parliament that could trigger a snap general election, a court official said on Monday.

The prosecutor ruled there was insufficient evidence to support the accusation made by Pavlos Haikalis, a lawmaker from one of the small Greek parties whose backing the government needs to win the vote to elect a new president.

"There is no evidence indicating an act of bribery of a lawmaker," said the official, who declined to be quoted by name.

Haikalis, an actor and member of the small Independent Greeks party, said on Friday he had been offered a package worth up to 3 million euros to back the government's nominee Stavros Dimas in the finely balanced vote, which takes place over three rounds.

If parliament fails to elect a president by the third round on Dec. 29, new elections will have to be held by early February.

The case, inevitably dubbed "Haikalisgate" in the Greek media, surfaced two days after the first round, in which Dimas won a smaller-than-expected vote.

The government dismissed the accusations calling the case "a despicable show".

Prosecutors have been investigating similar accusations of political bribery in recent weeks but have not laid charges against anyone.

(Reporting by Renee Maltezou; Editing by Angus MacSwan)