As a junior minister denied new accusations in the Avriani newspaper he had been involved in improper dealings with a businessman handling public contracts, Avriani’s publisher was charged with defamation yesterday for claiming the same businessman had financed Press Minister Christos Protopappas’s 1996 election campaign. Avriani publisher Giorgos Kouris – whose paper has staunchly supported the ruling Socialists for two decades – yesterday claimed an unnamed minister had lived for six years in a luxury home owned by businessman Athanassios Athanassoulis. Avriani’s revelation that Deputy Public Order Minister Vangelis Malesios had lived rent-free in an Athanassoulis flat led to Malesios’s dismissal on April 15. State Minister Stefanos Manikas said he was the target of yesterday’s Avriani claims – which he denied – and vowed to sue Kouris. At the same time rumors were rife that Protopappas was to be sacked. He was not. Yesterday, it was announced that PASOK’s Pieria MP Pantelis Tsertikidis, a 47-year-old architect, will replace Malesios.