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Who is Michalis Liapis?

Former transport minister to be tried on Thursday for driving with fake number plates

Michalis Liapis' entry and success in politics could almost solely be attributed to the fact that he is the nephew of Konstantinos Karamanlis, the founder of New Democracy in 1974, who was prime minister four times and president for two terms, and first cousin of Kostas Karamanlis, twice prime minister

Former minister Michalis Liapis is led into court, with a jacket concealing his handcuffs, on 18 December 2013 (Photo: In Time News/Eleftherotypia) Former minister Michalis Liapis is led into court, with a jacket concealing his handcuffs, on 18 December 2013 (Photo: In Time News/Eleftherotypia) In 2007, when he was transport minister, Michalis Liapis inaugurated the country's new traffic code, in the company of his first cousin, prime minister Kostas Karamanlis.

As Liapis announced at that launch, "the aim of the transport ministry is to make road safety and the rules of the road into a major national issue".

Six years later, the same man was arrested on Tuesday driving without insurance in a luxury jeep with bogus number plates. And he'd failed to halt at a stop sign.

Police later said Liapis had handed the real license plates into the tax office in August to avoid an estimated €1,320 in road taxes. Liapis will tried on misdemeanour charges on Thursday, and if convicted, faces a suspended jail sentence of between six months to five years. He was also fined €780 for driving an uninsured vehicle and other offences.

"I erred and must pay the consequences," Liapis said after his arrest, although he still declared "I only took the car out to charge the battery."

He added that he had made a "historic mistake".

In October 2009, after Eleftherotypia revealed his involvement in the Siemens scandal, he used the same phrase, but against his prime minister cousin.

"It is a historical mistake for his country and a blunder for our party to hold early elections," he declared, Michalis Liapis, signalling his departure from the political scene and the final rupture with Karamanlis.

Connections

'I erred and must pay the consequences,' Liapis said, although he still declared 'I only took the car out to charge the battery' (Photo: In Time News/Eleftherotypia) 'I erred and must pay the consequences,' Liapis said, although he still declared 'I only took the car out to charge the battery' (Photo: In Time News/Eleftherotypia) Liapis, who held the transport brief from 2004 to 2007 and was culture minister from 2007 to 2009, was a representative of the so-called "populist right" wing within New Democracy.

His entry into politics could almost solely be attributed to the fact that he is the nephew of Konstantinos Karamanlis, the founder of New Democracy in 1974, who was prime minister four times and president for two terms.

Liapis' mother Antigoni was a sister of the elder Karamanlis.

Indeed, when Karamanlis returned from his self-imposed exile in Paris after the fall of the colonels' dictatorship, he was accompanied by his young nephew, who was later given the task of setting up New Democracy's youth wing Onned.

In 1980, when his uncle was elected president, he was appointed director of his office, where he remained until 1985, when he was elected MP in Greater Athens, a seat he held until 2009, when he declined to run.

Siemens and the suburban rail

Liapis' decision to throw the hat in followed the reactions from within New Democracy to his involvement in the Siemens scandal.

Eleftherotypia, EnetEnglish's parent publication, had revealed that, as transport minister, he had travelled to Germany and Austria with his son and six others in 2005 to watch soccer matches, a trip that was organised entirely by Michalis Christoforakos, then CEO of Siemens in Greece.

While Liapis insisted that it was a private trip, which he organised and paid for himself, Christoforakos' secretary later told a parliamentary committee that she had, with Christoforakos, secured the tickets for the minister.

Liapis' name was raised repeatedly during the hearings on the scandal, but the calling of elections meant that any crimes by Liapis expired under the statute of limitations.

One allegation related to a contract (number 994/2005) between OSE and a consortium comprising Siemens, Aktor and Terna for the reconstruction of the railway line betweeen Piraeus and Acharnai Junction (Ska), at a cost of €161m. 

Although the assignment contract was made in 2003 – the project was described as being related to the Olympic Games and should have been completed in 8 months – the contract was only signed on 26 April 2005, after the Games.

According to the new schedule, the project should have been completed by the end of 2005. But as the hundreds of commuters who use the line are only two well aware, the job has yet to be completed.

And if that wasn't enough, the consortium involved is now demanding millions in compensation and damages is a dispute over the contract and the project.

Last year, a prosecutor filed criminal charges against 13 former executives of the Hellenic Railways (OSE) between 2004 and 2007 for decisions that allegedly damaged the company.

He mightn't have legal number plates, but Michalis Liapis has plenty when it comes to income, bank deposits and properties. By Kostas Koufogiorgos (18 December 2013) He mightn't have legal number plates, but Michalis Liapis has plenty when it comes to income, bank deposits and properties. By Kostas Koufogiorgos (18 December 2013) 'Freedom for Michalis Liapis:' The jeep owned by the former transport minister arrested on Tuesday for driving with bogus number plates. By Vangelis Papavasiliou (18 December 2013) 'Freedom for Michalis Liapis:' The jeep owned by the former transport minister arrested on Tuesday for driving with bogus number plates. By Vangelis Papavasiliou (18 December 2013)

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Hellenic Railways (OSE)
Michalis Liapis
Konstantinos Karamanlis
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Kostas Karamanlis
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