Minister out over son’s transfer

Agricultural Development Minister Savvas Tsitouridis was forced to resign yesterday following revelations that his son had been assigned a highly desirable seat at a prestigious Athens University to afford him better security ahead of the Olympic Games. But while citing «personal and political reasons» in his decision to step down, Tsitouridis denied that any law had been broken in his son’s transfer from the department of sociology at Crete University in Rethymnon to Athens’s Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences. «All the other acts that prompted my resignation were fully legal,» he said. The 50-year-old politician from the central Macedonian town of Kilkis was the first Cabinet member to lose his job since conservative New Democracy came to power in March. His resignation came just days after the government resolutely ignored concerted opposition cries for the head of Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos, in the wake of the September 11 helicopter crash in the northern Aegean which cost 17 lives. Tsitouridis’s downfall started earlier yesterday when opposition PASOK MP Sylvana Rapti tabled a question in Parliament, asking Education Minister Marietta Giannakou about the transfer – without identifying the minister involved. According to Rapti, at the beginning of the summer Panteion University accepted an application by the son of a Cabinet minister for a transfer for security reasons linked to his father’s position and Greece’s staging of the August 13-29 Olympics. An earlier application by the same student – which did not mention security concerns – had been rejected. The MP said Olympic security is not a legitimate reason for a transfer.Tsitouridis’s deputy, Evangelos Bassiakos, succeeds him.

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