World Bulletin/News Desk
A Greek investigative journalist was acquitted in a retrial on Wednesday of violating privacy laws after he published the names of more than 2,000 wealthy Greeks with money in Switzerland, court officials said.
Costas Vaxevanis was acquitted last year but a state prosecutor successfully pressed for a retrial in a higher court, saying the initial verdict was flawed and there was new evidence.
The "Lagarde List", with the names of 2,059 Greeks with HSBC bank accounts in Switzerland to be probed for possible tax evasion, was given to Greece by French authorities in 2010. Christine Lagarde, who is now head of the International Monetary Fund, was French finance minister at the time.
The Vaxevanis case grabbed international attention and angered Greeks who accuse successive governments of failing to go after tax evaders while imposing austerity on everyone else.
Vaxevanis, who presented his case behind closed doors, argued that he had published the list to expose a system of corruption. He had previously called the trial "vengeful" and an attempt to muzzle the press.
The prosecutor, who recommended a guilty verdict, said the purpose of the trial was "not censorship or intimidation but the limits of two statutory rights which are colliding".
In July, Greek lawmakers voted in favour of pressing criminal charges against former finance minister George Papaconstantinou after prosecutors found that the names of three of his relatives had been deleted from the list.
Papaconstantinou has denied any wrongdoing.Last Mod: 28 Kasım 2013, 12:16