Cheers as tax dodger list journalist is acquitted
A journalist who published the names of more than 2,000 wealthy Greeks with Swiss bank accounts was acquitted yesterday.
Costas Vaxevanis had faced up to two years in jail if convicted of violating data privacy laws.
The case has touched a nerve in near-bankrupt Greece, where rampant tax evasion is undermining a struggle to cut public spending and raise revenue under an European Union, International Monetary Fund bailout deal.
The trial following publication at the weekend had enraged many Greeks, already furious over government failure to crack down on a rich elite while years of recession have wiped out a fifth of output and hammered the middle class.
The courtroom erupted in cheers when the judge pronounced Mr Vaxevanis not guilty at the end of the all-day trial.
The Hot Doc weekly editor lifted his fists in the air at hearing the verdict, having called the trial “targeted and vengeful”.
He said: “This ruling is not only right, but it frees journalism. Journalists in Greece have been held hostage for a very long time.
“This ruling gives our colleagues the possibility to do their jobs without handcuffs.”
Mr Vaxevanis argued the prosecution had charged him without any one on the list filing a complaint.
He said an anonymous source gave him the so-called Lagarde list, which IMF head Christine Lagarde handed to authorities in several EU countries in 2010 when she was French finance minister.
Premier Antonis Samaras’ government has not commented on the accuracy of the list, which officials say was stolen by a former HSBC bank worker.
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