Extortion probe gathers steam

The publisher of a small daily paper is expected to be summoned over the weekend to testify in an ongoing investigation into claims that journalists and extreme right-wingers regularly blackmailed leading businessmen and prominent bishops, sources said yesterday. This follows the second testimony, late on Thursday, of industrialist Theodoros Angelopoulos – husband of Athens 2004 President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki – whose allegation that his uncle, Dimitris Angelopoulos, was the victim of extortion from extreme right-wing publisher Grigoris Michalopoulos, triggered the investigation. According to Angelopoulos, his uncle – who was killed by November 17 terrorists in 1986 – mentioned in his diary that Michalopoulos, who runs the Eleftheri Ora daily, claimed to have removed him from N17’s hit list in 1985. The inference was that Michalopoulos had demanded cash. Sources close to the investigation said Angelopoulos’s four-hour testimony was «extremely courageous» and more important than his first, on January 20. Angelopoulos-Daskalaki has also testified, as well as the daughter of Greek tycoon Yiannis Latsis, Marianna. Angelopoulos declined to say whether he had paid money to blackmailers, but dismissed press reports of the sums involved as «fantastic.» Meanwhile, sources said Bishop Hieronymos of Thebes testified yesterday before prosecutor Dimitris Papangelopoulos, who is handling the investigation. Two more journalists are expected to testify this weekend, as well as the publisher, whose name was not made public. But yesterday, Giorgos Trangas, owner of the low-circulation Hora, a populist, right-wing daily, in a passionate editorial accused the government of trying to close down Hora and smear his name.

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