Publisher testifies on extortion

The far right-wing publisher at the heart of an alleged extortion scandal testified for over seven hours yesterday before an Athens prosecutor handling the case, but denied any involvement. Court sources said Grigoris Michalopoulos, who owns the Eleftheri Ora daily, claimed to have barely known two of his alleged victims, tycoon Yiannis Latsis and Bishop Chrysostomos of Zakynthos. The senior churchman, a leading critic of Archbishop Christodoulos, has repeatedly accused Michalopoulos of blackmailing him after publishing defamatory articles. Chrysostomos also maintained that Michalopoulos warned him he was on the hit list of the November 17 terrorist group, which ties in with the initial testimony by leading industrialist Theodoros Angelopoulos that kick-started the investigation last month. Prosecutor Dimitris Papangelopoulos has already interviewed a string of businessmen, Chrysostomos and Hieronymos, bishop of Thebes. Michalopoulos is due to testify again today before Papangelopoulos, who is expected to focus on Angelopoulos’s accusations. The industrialist – who is married to Athens 2004 President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, who has also testified – claims Michalopoulos extorted money from his uncle, Dimitris Angelopoulos, in 1985, again using the N17 ploy. The left-wing group killed Dimitris Angelopoulos in 1986. Michalopoulos denies any impropriety, claiming he had been for years on the closest of terms with the Angelopoulos family, one of Greece’s richest and most powerful clans. Yesterday, the publisher said he had had no contact with the Latsis family, apart from writing a deeply critical book on Yiannis Latsis, and only met Chrysostomos once.