NEWS

Investigation into judiciary probes higher

The crisis engulfing the country’s judiciary appeared to deepen yesterday after the justice minister ordered an investigation into the role of the Supreme Court deputy prosecutor in the alleged assignment of a case, involving a priest accused of being a middleman in a trial-fixing ring, to another prosecutor currently facing disciplinary measures. «We are determined – and I think it has been made clear – to restore authority to the justice system and respect for the law,» said Justice Minister Anastassis Papaligouras. He wrote to Supreme Court prosecutor Dimitris Linos and asked him to launch an investigation into a specific decision by his deputy, Antonis Plomaritis. The latter is alleged to have assigned a case involving Archimandrite Iakovos Yiossakis, who is currently in custody in Korydallos Prison pending trial on charges of stealing antiquities, to deputy appeals prosecutor Nikos Athanassopoulos. The case involved an appeal by Yiossakis to have a court decision against him quashed. Athanassopoulos is currently facing possible dismissal over his alleged role in trial-fixing ring. Yiossakis is alleged to have acted as a middleman in the same ring, which is claimed to have focused on securing early releases from prison for convicted drug dealers. Plomaritis appears to have claimed that before handing the Yiossakis case to Athanassopoulos, he originally tried to assign it to another deputy prosecutor, Andreas Zigouras, who rejected it. However, court sources indicate that Zigouras says he never had a problem with handling the appeal. «The probe involves everyone, no matter how high up they are – even if they are my colleagues,» said Linos, who reiterated the determination of the judiciary to rid itself of any corruption and restore its respectability. The head of the Supreme Court, Giorgos Kapos, said he expected the investigation into corruption within the judiciary to stretch even further and that the names of judges who have not even been mentioned yet in the press will soon be linked to allegations. Meanwhile, Linos yesterday wrote to Papaligouras to inform him that he was against the idea, adopted by the Church of Greece Hierarchy on Saturday, to form a council of four top judges to investigate claims of scandals within the institution. Linos said that it was unthinkable, at a time when the Church and judiciary were being closely linked in a number of corruption allegations, that such a body be created. The Supreme Court prosecutor said that the formation of this type of council would give the impression of a cover-up.