The Greek judiciary is pursuing the executives of the German technology giant – including former CEO Heinrich von Pierer – on charges of bribing Greek politicians and public officials to win lucrative contracts.
But since the cases have already been dealt with by German courts – either through convictions or settlements – the executives say that an international arrest warrant would impinge on their human rights, the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper reported on Tuesday.
Should warrants be issued, some of the men are planning to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, one of the execs told the paper anonymously.
The case is a reminder of that of former Siemens board chairman Volker Jung, who was detained in Greece in June 2009, and forced to stay in the country for over a year while corruption charges were investigated. When Jung finally returned to Germany, an international arrest warrant was issued.
Though German authorities refused to deport him because he had been cleared of the charges by German state prosecutors, any other European country would be bound to arrest him and send him to Greece if he travelled there, leaving him unable to travel.
A similar fate now faces his former colleagues. Most of the 11 executives have faced a German court and been sentenced. Others, like Jung and Pierer, have paid fines without admitting any guilt, and their cases are considered closed.
One of the executives told the Süddeutsche Zeitung that their appeal to Strasbourg would be based on the legal principle that someone cannot be tried twice for the same crime.
The Greek judiciary is under pressure to deal with such cases, since the crisis-hit country reportedly loses millions of euros of tax revenue every year through corruption. But the Siemens executives argue that such cases could harm the country in the long run, as it will discourage investors.