PASOK lawmaker and former finance minister Evangelos Venizelos said the rule of law is at stake in the ongoing investigation into the Novartis bribery case, during a debate in parliament on whether to set up a preliminary committee to investigate the alleged involvement of 10 politicians in the case. His name is among those listed in the case file sent to parliament.

"The Novartis case constitutes a fight for democracy and the rule of law. That's what at stake," he told lawmaker, adding the case is "cobbled together".

Venizelos accused the government of a political conspiracy and an attempt to smear political rivals. "The issue of the [protected witnesses] is nothing compared to the colpo grosso of the preliminary investigative committee," he said, adding that the aim is for the witnesses not to testify and leave the accusations lingering without being disproved, which he described as "the perfect crime".

"We don't want a statute of limitations, we don't want a trick, we want a real investigation," he said.