Michalis Liapis: Greek Ex-Transport Minister Arrested Over Road Tax

Greek Ex-Transport Minister Arrested Over Road Tax

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December 17 2013

ATHENS, Greece

A former transport minister was arrested in debt-crippled Greece on Tuesday accused of driving his uninsured luxury car with fake license plates in an apparent effort to dodge paying road tax.

Greek police said Michalis Liapis, who belongs to one of Greece’s most prominent political families, was stopped in his jeep after allegedly ignoring a road stop sign east of Athens.

The arrest would have been unimaginable a few years ago, and reflects a shift in authorities‘ attitude toward public figures amid rising resentment for the political class seen as responsible for the country’s financial woes.

Police said the 62-year-old had handed his license plates over to tax authorities to avoid an estimated 1,320 euros ($1,814) in road tax for 2013, and was illegally using copies of the originals.

Speaking after his arrest, the retired conservative politician said he had made a mistake.

„I erred, and must pay the consequences,“ Liapis said. „I only took the car out to charge the battery.“

As incomes have tumbled and taxes repeatedly hiked amid Greece’s acute financial crisis, thousands of Greeks have handed back their car number plates to avoid road tax, on condition that they keep the vehicles in private parking and do not drive them on public roads.

Liapis was led in handcuffs before a prosecutor later Tuesday, and police requested that he should be charged with forgery, giving false statements to tax authorities and driving an uninsured vehicle.

Liapis served as transport minister between 2004-2007 in the conservative New Democracy government leading campaigns to improve Greeks‘ driving habits and later as culture minister. He retired from politics in 2009. His late uncle, Constantine Karamanlis was a former Greek president and prime minister who founded New Democracy in 1974.

According to his wealth declaration for 2011, Liapis and his wife owned 28 pieces of real estate, including a villa with a swimming pool on the resort island of Mykonos. His declared income for that year was 109,000 euros ($150,000).

Macedonia Closes Factories to Ease Deadly Smog

17 Dec 13
Macedonia Closes Factories to Ease Deadly Smog

The authorities have ordered big factories near the Macedonian capital to halt production as pollution levels have become worrying.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN

Skopje

Some of Skopje’s main industrial facilities, such as the OKTA crude oil refinery and the metal factory, Makstil, have been ordered to halt production because of pollution concerns, the Ministry of Health said.

The halt was ordered as Skopje entered a seventh day of severe air pollution.

Inspectors have also been dispatched to monitor air pollution produced by smaller factories.

“Those companies where we have identified increased pollution have been instructed to halt work and reduce the factors that cause pollution,” the Mayor of Skopje, Koce Trajanovski, said.

For the seventh day in a row, air pollution measured in terms of PM10 particles was very high in all parts of the capital.

In some areas, levels measured by the Ministry of Environment reached 180 micrograms per cubic meter on Monday, almost four times the maximum accepted level of 50. In other areas it amounted to 90.

Last week levels in some parts of the city reached 500 micrograms.

PM10 particles are small breathable specks that are considered one of the worst air polluters. Due to their small size they can penetrate the lungs and are known to cause cancer and other respiratory diseases.

The level of Carbon Dioxide, CO2 in some areas is twelve times the maximum accepted level, measurments show.

As a result, this weekend the authorities warned residents to limit going out and restrict their driving.

The authorities say that if air pollution continues at this level for more than ten days, they will consider declaring an emergency.

“What we have now is a result of many factors that have piled up over many years,” Health Minister Nikola Todorov said.

Apart from industry, he blamed pollution on the fact that the nearly half of all households in Skopje still use wood or fossil fuels for heating over the winter.

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