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Greek Government Withdraws Challenge, Removing Obstacle for Georgiou

1 August 2023 404 views No Comment
Photo of Andreas Georgio, sitting in office and looking relaxed, beard, mustache

Andreas Georgiou
Photo courtesy of the Georgiou family.

In July, the Greek government withdrew its June challenge of the European Court of Human Rights March 2023 ruling in favor of Andreas Georgiou—statistician and former president of the Hellenic Statistical Authority—finding Greece violated his right to a fair trial on violation-of-duty charges. In late May, the Greek Supreme Court annulled an appeal’s court 2021 decision upholding a lower court’s 2017 conviction for simple slander (i.e., making true statements that damage the reputation of the plaintiff).

The European Court of Human Rights ruling regarded violation of duty charges, which contend Georgiou violated his duty as head of the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) when—in November of 2010—he did not put up the revised 2006–2009 public finance statistics for a vote following such demands from a then-existing board at ELSTAT. For this charge, he was initially cleared by a three-judge panel before being subjected to a double jeopardy trial in which he was convicted and sentenced to two years in jail (suspended). Subsequently, the Greek Supreme Court confirmed Georgiou’s conviction.

Georgiou’s appeal to the European Court of Human Rights stated his human right to a fair trial was violated because the Greek court did not consult with the Court of Justice of the European Union on the meaning of the European Statistical System’s “European Statistics Code of Practice,” which—under the principle of Professional Independence—includes this indicator: “The heads of the National Statistical Institutes … have the sole responsibility for deciding on statistical methods, standards and procedures, and on the content and timing of statistical releases.”

Georgiou now awaits to see whether the Greek judiciary will reopen the case, as explicitly recommended by the European Court of Human Rights. 

The Greek Supreme Court’s decision to annul the Civil Appeals Court January 2021 decision against Georgiou for simple slander means the latter court would have to hear Georgiou’s previous appeal of a lower court’s August 2017 conviction again if the plaintiff or Georgiou requests it.

The plaintiff, who was the government employee who oversaw the initial Greek 2006–2009 financial figures revised under Georgiou’s leadership, has potentially until 2041 to decide whether to request the retrial at the Civil Appeals Court. While the Supreme Court’s annulment is encouraging, it potentially extends Georgiou’s saga into a third decade. Georgiou intends to initiate the retrial at the Civil Appeals Court himself, hoping to put a definite end to the uncertainty and persecution he faces.

With the longstanding support of its board of directors, the ASA will continue to monitor Georgiou’s case, support him against persecution, and join him in defending the integrity of government statistics.

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