NEWS

Top-level judge faces probe

The justice minister pledged yesterday to look into allegations of corruption against the vice president of the Supreme Court as the trial of a former magistrate, charged with accepting bribes and other infractions, also began. «I will do my duty and live up to my responsibility,» said Justice Minister Anastassis Papaligouras when questioned about the claims. According to a contractor who testified before Supreme Court deputy prosecutor Giorgos Sanidas, the highest court's vice president Achilleas Zisis allowed a businessman who was on the run from justice to pay for the building materials used in constructing the judge's holiday home on Crete. The businessmen is alleged to have been involved in the share bubble on the Athens Stock Exchange in the late 1990s, which eventually led to thousands of investors losing their savings. Zisis is also the head of the Union of Judges and Prosecutors. «The climate of relaxed morals and corruption that has existed in our country in recent years has unfortunately affected the justice system as well,» said Papaligouras. Early this month an Athens appeals court prosecutor issued four criminal charges and 13 misdemeanors against nine judges, three lawyers, a court clerk, a priest and a doctor suspected of involvement in a trial-fixing ring. At least 25 other judicial officials are also under investigation for trial fixing and malpractice. Meanwhile, the trial of former court of first instance judge Constantina Bourboulia began at an Athens appeals court yesterday. Bourboulia has been accused of mishandling, between 2000 and 2002, an investigation into stock market improprieties and of accepting bribes. Bourboulia has already received a seven-month jail sentence for failing to submit a declaration of assets, or pothen esches. In February, court of first instance judge Giorgos Papardoukakis was dismissed after it was revealed that, while serving as a prosecutor in the town of Thebes, he had delayed an investigation of Bourboulia for over two years.