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Monday, October 24, 2005 

Spies Like Us

Every politician's worst nightmare...a spy cam

This weekend, a 60 year old woman dominated the headlines in Greek media. On Friday, Eleni Voulgani, walked into the Labour Ministry's office with some sweets, a 5000€ cheque and a hidden tape recorder. According to Mrs. Voulgani, she had attempted to catch a politician on tape of accepting her bribe. According to the politicians, she had offered a bribe for the sole purpose of obtaining a position for her son in the civil service. Despite the attention devoted to the story, details of what actually happened are fuzzy. Righteous indignation from the deputy minister, Gerasimos Giakoumatos and New Democracy mouthpieces have obscured what actually transpired.

Makis Triantafilipoulos, host of Alpha channel's "Zougla" show was also dragged into the dog & pony show with people on all sides accusing him of masterminding the plot to get politicians caught red-handed on the take. Last night, he categorically denied setting her up to do anything and she confirmed his story. While on the show, he produced two police reports filed against Voulgani...in one Giakoumatos stated he was in the office, in the other, he stated he was not present when she dropped off the bribe. After Voulgani left the Labour Ministry office,5 hours had lapsed between the filing the complaint and her subsequent arrest. In addition, Voulgani submitted two business cards of the civil servant she left the bribe with where he had written his home address and phone number on them. It was at Mr. Rembis' home that she had already delivered kilos of cheese and roast pork.

However, these details have not been reported in the print media. Instead, they choose to parrot what looks to be the official New Democracy response on the matter...that society is the problem by allowing citizens to walk around taping conversations. Given that Greece ranks 47th on Transparency International's Corruption Index (alongside Namibia, no less), it is completely understandable why people in Greece feel the need to take hidden cameras or microphones with them to record meetings with public officials, doctors and civil servants.

After questioning her motives, the character assassination began. Within 24 hours she no longer was a 'lady' or a 'citizen' but a housewife. 72 hours later, they rolled out the inevitable 'blame the media' stance championed by everyone once their actions have been put under the public microscope. By the time Voulganis gets to court, all anyone will remember is that she was the silly, misguided housewife with a tape recorder and the pervasive problem of government corruption will be swept under the carpet once again.

The finger has been pointed at just about everyone in this case except the officials involved. More questions need to be answered. Why would a public official feel the need to give out his home address and phone number to a citizen unless there was something shady going on? Why did Mr. Rembis accept previous gifts from her at his home? Why did it take so long for her to be arrested? Why did he file two different police reports? Why is no one calling into question the logic behind Karamanlis' decision to give Giakoumatos a government post after he brandished a gun in parliament and uttered death threats against a PASOK minister in 1998 and was suspended for it?

If Mrs. Voulgani's true intention was to capture bribery on tape, she certainly went about it in an irresponsible and careless manner. She definitely will have to respond to the allegations levelled against her in court but will any of the officials involved have to address theirs?

Lol, don't the Greek politicians realize that the whole point of the media is to expose government corruption? Or don't they pay attention to the stories in the U.S.?

Whether or not this woman was prompted by the media doesn't matter. If you don't want your government corruption to be exposed, don't be corrupt.

And when she gets to court, I wonder if she will be able to bribe the judge. She might as well try.

I bet they'll make an example of her to discourage any other would-be 'investigative citizens' from exposing the government's open secret of corruption.

Investigative journalists ?
Even our so called investigative journalists suffer from viral corruption. Sometimes I keep wondering if our society does not resemble the Dysticus larvae.
The journalists expose corruption of the politicians, who exposes the corruption and venality of the media ? We need to get out of the cesspool of corruption, but the media, journalist empire is well entrenched and skilful at covering their tracks. On politicians, what can I say. I have vowed never ever to cast my vote for anyone of the political brigands in the political establishment. As far as the public is concerned, poor public.

I am sorry for butting in , it was not my intention.


When I heard this the first day on the Greek news back then, I told my wife it was a set up.

Would the minister be so stupid as to accept a bribe in the form of a check?

Everyone knows that bribes are always given in cash.

Red flags went off and I told all my Greek friends and family and of course they didn't believe me at first until the truth came out later and I was vindicated.

Scruffy sense....

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