ATHENS, Greece — Greek authorities have arrested a heart surgeon in a major Athens hospital on charges of bribery and blackmail for allegedly demanding money in order to perform urgent surgery, police said Thursday.
The 59-year-old doctor, who was not named, was arrested in Athens on Wednesday following an investigation triggered by a complaint from a patient who suffered a heart attack.
According to the complaint, the surgeon initially demanded 1,500 euros ($2,040) to perform bypass surgery, allegedly threatening to release the patient if the money was not paid. The amount was eventually reduced to 500 euros.
Police said a relative of the patient met with the doctor and handed him 500 euros in marked bills, after which plain-clothes police officers waiting nearby arrested the surgeon.
Apart from the marked bills, doctors said they also confiscated another 355 euros found in the doctor's possession, as well as handwritten notes containing the names of other doctors at the hospital and monetary amounts.
A preliminary investigation revealed that the doctor had been accused by another patient last year of demanding 1,500-2,000 euros to perform heart surgery at the same hospital, which has not been named. Police said they were investigating whether the doctor was involved in other bribery cases.
Successive Greek governments have vowed to crack down on corruption as the country struggles through a four-year financial crisis that has left it dependent on funds from an international bailout.