Greece diplomats linked to anti-landmine charity fraud scandal

file pic of landmines in Iraq (2010) Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Police allege that funding for the charity was obtained illegally

Eight people, including three diplomats, are facing charges in Greece in connection with an alleged fraud involving an anti-landmine charity.

The former head of the unnamed charity and his wife are among those involved in the long-running inquiry.

The charges relate to 9m euros ($12m; £7m) given to the NGO between 2000 and 2004 by the Greek foreign ministry.

Police allege the funding, given to clear mines in Bosnia-Hercegovina, Iraq and Lebanon, was obtained illegally.

Investigators believe the organisation did not fulfil the funding requirements.

Senior officials who were working at the time in the Greek foreign ministry and other ministries have been caught up in the scandal, according to Greek news agency ANA-MPA.

The eight suspects face charges of obtaining taxpayers' money improperly.

Under Greek rules, 25% of the funds for development projects should be met by charities to enable the government to cover the remaining sum.

But police told reporters that staff working on the eight projects were allegedly told to give back 20-30% of their salaries as contributions, to ensure funding continued.

Correspondents in Athens say there is public pressure on the Greek authorities to take action against fraud, as many ordinary people feel that while they have to tighten their belts as part of the austerity drive, the political class remains corrupt.

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