NEWS

Letter reveals civil servant felt pressure

Sunday’s suicide of Finance Ministry official Rubini Stathea, who had been involved in a case concerning demolition of plush seaside dwellings, revealed the contradictions in the relevant legislation, infighting between state agencies, and suspicions over the state administration’s illicit dealings with the rich and powerful who can thus circumvent the law. Stathea left behind six letters, one of which, addressed to the chief editor of Eleftherotypia newspaper, Seraphim Fyntanidis, was published yesterday. The letter provided an explanation of her suicide, implying that she had been under pressure by colleagues, politicians and, above all, the media, especially television reporters. «I wish my own end to be the beginning for a little effort by everyone to become better, the civil servants a little bit more industrious, responsible and effective, the politicians a little more honest, the judges a little more trustworthy and the journalists less carnivorous,» Stathea wrote. She went on to ask forgiveness of her husband, Panos Tzavaras, for «ruining his political career» – he is a member of the ruling PASOK party and a municipal councillor – and proclaimed that most civil servants are honest, the government «with exceptions, the best I’ve ever seen and the prime minister the most honest we have ever had. I believe that the majority of judges are honest and that there are good journalists, too.» The other five letters were addressed to her husband and children, the family doctor and three of her superiors. All letters are in the hands of the authorities investigating the circumstances of her death: The recipients received copies. Government officials expressed «deep regret» at her death. Stathea had issued two contradictory orders within two days last week, first prohibiting and then allowing the demolition of the wall of a seaside villa. The five-year-old demolition order had been issued by the Environment Ministry and Stathea’s initial order halting the demolition was based on a 27-year-old court decision.