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Aliesch publicly apologises for accepting gifts

Peter Aliesch answers questions at Tuesday's press conference in Chur

(Keystone)

The embattled justice director of canton Graubünden, Peter Aliesch, has publicly apologised for accepting gifts from the Greek businessman, Panagiotis Papadakis, but has insisted that he is not guilty of corruption.

Speaking at a press conference in Chur in southeastern Switzerland, Aliesch said he was sorry for accepting gifts and holidays from the Greek millionaire, but denied any wrong doing.

He asked for his immunity to be lifted so that he could prove his innocence.
"I would like to defend myself against the accusations of corruption in a court of law," he told reporters.

Graubünden's cantonal parliament will now meet in special session on September 7 to discuss whether Aliesch's immunity as justice director for the canton can be lifted.

Tuesday's public apology followed Aliesch's meeting with members of his Radical Party on Monday. In what was a heated debate, members of the party agreed to stand by him deciding that he should only step down immediately if he is charged with corruption.

They also demanded an official public apology from Aliesch for his conduct.

Thomas Casanova, a member of the Radical Party, said Aliesch had admitted that he had made a mistake by accepting the gifts, but insisted they had not affected his political decisions and actions.

The Graubünden Radical Party president, Hans Joo, added that the situation had been made worse by Aliesch failing to return to Switzerland early from his honeymoon in Italy to face the growing controversy.

Arranging residence permits

Aliesch is accused of arranging cantonal work and residence permits for the Greek businessman, Panagiotis Papadakis. In exchange, he is alleged to have received expensive gifts and free luxury holidays.

Aliesch is also said to have arranged meetings between Papadakis and high-ranking Swiss politicians, including the finance minister, Kaspar Villiger. Villiger's office last week confirmed a one-off social meeting, saying discussions had centred on comparing the Greek and Swiss political and business systems.

Aliesch also hit the headlines on Sunday when newspapers revealed that an alleged drug dealer in 1996 had named his wife as a consumer of cocaine. The case was never proven and was later dropped.

swissinfo with agencies


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