Top judge to face trial for corruption

In the highest level corruption scandal to hit the Greek judiciary, an Athens prosecutor yesterday brought misdemeanor charges against the Supreme Court’s vice president, accusing him of interfering in the course of justice. Kyriakos Karoutsos charged Achilleas Zisis with multiple counts of dereliction of duty and with breaching the law on declaration of assets (known as pothen eshes). Zisis has been charged in connection to claims that he allowed businessman Constantinos Avramidis, who was facing trial on a number of charges, to pay for the building materials used in the construction of his holiday home on Crete. Zisis is alleged to have intervened in a number of cases that were outstanding against Avramidis to secure favorable rulings. Zisis, who is also the president of the Union of Judges and Prosecutors, has rejected the allegations. When the claims first emerged in June, he labeled them «falsehoods… and wretched defamations.» His lawyer yesterday claimed that «hate and revenge» had fueled machinations against his client. Zisis is the highest level judge in Greece to face corruption charges. Avramidis has also been charged with defrauding the state, tax evasion and being the instigator of the incident that led to Zisis’s breach of duty. The judiciary has been mired in corruption scandals since the beginning of the year. Seven judicial officials have been sacked and 15 people were charged in June with being involved in a trial-fixing ring. A magistrate, Maroulio Daviou, and first instance judge Nektarios Vazeos were yesterday suspended over corruption allegations. However, if found guilty, Zisis will be the highest-ranking judge to be toppled, which will be a severe blow to the efforts of the judiciary to recover from the scandals that have sent it reeling in recent months. Justice Minister Anastassis Papaligouras wrote to the Supreme Court yesterday asking whether Zisis should be suspended from his post until his case is heard. In June, Papaligouras appointed Romylos Kedikoglou to the post of president of the Supreme Court after the previous head retired. The minister made a point of underlining that Kedikoglou had been chosen because of his high moral standards.