Wife of Greek ex-defense minister on the run

Updated 02 April 2015

Wife of Greek ex-defense minister on the run

ATHENS, Greece: The wife of an imprisoned former Greek defense minister escaped from a psychiatric hospital where she was serving her sentence on the same corruption charges as her husband, police said Thursday.
Vicky Stamati, wife of former Socialist Party stalwart Akis Tsochatzopoulos, was found missing from her guarded cell in the Dromokaitio state psychiatric institution early Thursday.
Police said they were searching for the woman in Athens. Her escape came a day after another of her multiple appeals to be released from prison was rejected, one of her lawyers, Alexis Cougias, told local media.
Justice Minister Nikos Paraskevopoulos said a disciplinary investigation had been launched into her prison guards.
Stamati was initially imprisoned in 2012 and was convicted in 2013 along with her husband, step-daughter and more than a dozen others in a military procurement corruption case against Tsochatzopoulos.
Stamati was deemed to have known about bribes her husband accepted. She was sentenced to 12 years for money laundering and accepting illegal funds. An appeals trial has not yet been completed.
In poor health, she underwent a double mastectomy shortly after the trial while imprisoned. She was transferred to the psychiatric hospital in December 2013 after suffering a breakdown, attempting suicide and being found to be suffering from severe depression.
Stamati has appealed five times to judicial authorities to be released from prison, citing health grounds and the grounds that her young child is now being brought up by her elderly mother. All appeals have so far been rejected.
The trial against Tsochatzopoulos was Greece’s biggest corruption trial in decades. The ex-minister, once one of the most powerful men in the then dominant socialist PASOK party, served as defense minister from 1996-2001. He was initially sentenced to the maximum 20 years in prison. His appeals trial is ongoing.


World political and religious leaders denounce deadly terror attack in French church

Updated 30 October 2020

World political and religious leaders denounce deadly terror attack in French church

  • Attacker killed three at the Basilica of Notre-Dame in Nice

JEDDAH: Political and religious leaders worldwide united in condemnation on Thursday after a man wielding a knife beheaded a woman and killed two other people in a church in the French city of Nice.
The attacker, Brahim Aouissaoui, 21, a Tunisian migrant, was shot six times by police as he fled the Basilica of Notre-Dame, and taken to hospital for treatment.
President Emmanuel Macron said France had been attacked by an Islamist terrorist “over our values, for our taste for freedom, for the ability on our soil to have freedom of belief. And I say it with lots of clarity again today, we will not give any ground.”
The attack took place as Muslims observed the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. A spokesman for the French Council for the Muslim Faith said: “As a sign of mourning and solidarity with the victims and their loved ones, I call on all Muslims in France to cancel all the celebrations of the holiday.”
Saudi Arabia condemned the attack. “We reiterate the Kingdom’s categorical rejection of such extremist acts that are inconsistent with all religions, human beliefs and common sense, and we affirm the importance of rejecting practices that generate hatred, violence and extremism,” the Foreign Ministry said.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation “affirmed its steadfast position rejecting the phenomenon of hyperbole, extremism and terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, whatever the causes and motives, calling for avoiding practices that lead to hate and violence.”

Opinion

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Arab and Muslim leaders drew a distinction between Islam and violent acts that claimed to defend it. At Al-Azhar in Cairo, the center of Sunni Muslim learning, Grand Mufti Ahmed Al-Tayeb denounced the murders as a “hateful terror act.” He said: “There is nothing that justifies these heinous terror acts which are contrary to Islam’s teachings.”
Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri voiced his “strongest condemnation and disapproval of the heinous criminal attack,” and urged Muslims “to reject this criminal act that has nothing to do with Islam or the prophet.”
There was condemnation from US President Donald Trump, UN chief Antonio Guterres, and European, Arab and Israeli leaders. “Our hearts are with the people of France. America stands with our oldest ally in this fight,” Trump tweeted.
Thursday’s attack began at about 9 a.m. when Aouissaoui burst into the church in Avenue Jean Medecin, the French Riviera city’s main shopping street. He slit the throat of a church worker, beheaded an elderly woman, and badly wounded another woman.
The church official and the elderly woman died at the scene. The third victim escaped to a nearby cafe, where she died from her wounds.
Nice’s Mayor, Christian Estrosi, compared the attack to the beheading this month near Paris of teacher Samuel Paty, who had used cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in a civics class.
The cartoons caused widespread offense in the Muslim world when they were published five years ago in a Danish newspaper and a French satirical magazine. Their re-emergence has led to anti-French protests in several Muslim-majority countries.