The Greek justice system has succeeded where terrorists, human rights groups, thousands of campaigners and dozens of former heads of state have failed: in securing the release of a political prisoner. That’s how businessman, soccer club owner and judicial enigma Makis Psomiadis referred to himself when he was arrested earlier this month after spending almost three months on the run from authorities who accused him of being a key player in a widespread match-fixing ring.
Psomiadis, who has over the last four decades been accused — and in many cases found guilty — of offenses as diverse as gold smuggling, embezzlement, blackmail and tax evasion, uttered the phrase “I am a political prisoner,” with no sense of shame or irony. The justice system responded in kind by deciding to release Psomiadis on bail after spending just a few days in custody. This, despite the fact that he is alleged to be one of the central players in an illegal gambling network that generated millions in profits from fixing the outcome of Greek soccer games at all levels.